Who: Ryan McAfee & Michelle Cassel
Ages: 28 & 29
Occupations: Multimedia journalists, musician (Ryan), fire dancer (Michelle)
Hometowns: Kansas City & Herndon, VA
Why TTY of the Month?
Jim and I were enjoying a nutritious lunch outside The Good Food Store in Missoula, Montana when we noticed two bikes leaning against the recycling bins in front of us. Each bike had a luggage rack attached to the back holding blankets, tarps, and other items that we thought belonged to a couple of homeless people (we later found out each bike was packed with 125 lbs. worth of stuff).
One of the bikes had a sign that read, “Virginia to Oregon: 3,800 miles and counting –life is good!” Those are two ambitious vagrants, I thought.
Jim asked the couple sitting next to us if the bikes belonged to them and, sure enough, they did.
Ryan, a multimedia journalist from Kansas City, and Michelle, also a video journalist and self-proclaimed “neo-hippie” vegetarian and environmentalist, had stopped to fuel up (they burn about 6,000 calories per day). These two are not your typical hobos, although they are technically homeless.
They, like Jim and I, sold their belongings and quit their jobs to pay for an adventure. On June 8, 2011 Ryan and Michelle left Yorktown, Virginia to pedal 4,262 miles across the Transamerica bicycle trail and will end in Astoria, Oregon.
Ryan and Michelle have endured harsh winds, bitter cold, intense heat, and three bee stings, and they’re still going strong. They’ve camped and couch-surfed their way across America while taking one day at a time; they’ve enjoyed meeting new people, going to new places and they brave the bumps in the road with a sense of humor.
This cycling duo aims to make as little of an impact on the Earth as possible. They might be treading lightly, but they’ve already positively influenced the communities they’ve visited in big ways.
They helped a family build an earthship, a building made of 100% natural and recycled materials, and they aided the National Speleological Society (NSS) restore a cave in Mammoth National Park, Kentucky.
“We realize most people aren’t going to ride their bikes across the country,” said Michelle, “but if we can inspire people to ride their bikes more often instead of taking their cars, then we’ve accomplished something.”
Ryan and Michelle embody the TTY mantra of being the change they want to see in the world; not only do they talk the talk, but they also walk the walk, or ride the ride, for that matter. They stand for a sustainable and healthy planet and live their lives accordingly.
I feel blessed that our paths crossed with this inspiring twosome and had the opportunity to hear their unique story.
You can learn more about Ryan and Michelle’s journey by following their website: www.americabycycle.com or by liking them on Facebook: facebook.com/americabycycle.