Riding a bike across the United States is obviously an extreme feat of endurance. Carthage resident Randy Ridings is hoping to take that feat of endurance to another level — riding an amphibious, human-powered vehicle across the country diagonally, from Oregon to Florida.
Riding a bike across the United States is obviously an extreme feat of endurance.
Carthage resident Randy Ridings is hoping to take that feat of endurance to another level — riding an amphibious, human-powered vehicle across the country diagonally, from Oregon to Florida.
“That's about 3,200 miles,” Ridings said in an interview at the May Food Truck Friday before leaving on his epic trip. “I plan to do it in about 100 days, so trying to average about 32 miles a day. I've done two other trips, 350 mile trips and a 400 mile trip, and that's about what I could average on those trips, about 32 to 35 miles a day.”
Ridings will be riding his “Quadyak,” a vehicle he designed and built with his engineer dad that combines a kayak with the pedals and gears and four wheels, the front set equipped with paddles to make the kayak equally at home on land.
Ridings left Carthage in an RV pulling his quadyak on a trailer on May 19 with the goal of arriving at the Oregon coast. He left Newport, on June 5.
He used that trip to the coast to scout out the route he planned to use from Oregon to Oklahoma.
Kindness of strangers
His plan is to leave his quadyak with friends or friendly strangers on the coast, drive his RV about 300 or 400 miles to the west, then get a ride back to the coast and ride to the RV. He'll leapfrog across the country from Newport, Oregon to St. Augustine, Florida that way, riding to the RV, leaving the quadyak with friends, driving the RV ahead, then returning and riding to the RV again.
“Leapfrog, that's exactly what I call it,” Ridings said. “That allows me to carry about 160 pounds of food. I can't carry all that on the quadyak, so it'll be in the RV. I'll be able to carry all my spare tires, bigger tools, even power tools, if I need to fix something. I can always get the RV, pull up and it's a mobile shop, mobile larder and occasionally a warm, dry bed. If I know I'm getting close to the RV and there's going to be three days of just nasty weather, well, I can stay at the RV for a couple of days, take a break, work on some stuff, maybe scout a little bit, come back and ride again.
“I'm going to really rely on the kindness of strangers for this trip, it's going to be the Gone with the Wind trip.”
Land and water
In total, the trip will be about 3,200 miles, and he's planning on making the trip in 100 days.
Ridings said the trip will be about half and half land and water. He'll ride up the mountains in Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming, then, following the natural route of the rivers on the east side of the Continental Divide to the southeast, take the Platt River into Nebraska, then drop south to the Arkansas River in Kansas and follow it to the Mississippi River.
He'll stay in the Mississippi to about Vicksburg, Miss. Then get out and head overland to rivers in Alabama, and possibly travel along the Gulf Coast to Florida. Then he'll cross Florida and end in St. Augustine.
Ridings said he'll use the advantages of riding an amphibious vehicle to decide which route to take.
In most cases, the rivers might be safer than dealing with vehicle traffic on the roads, but there also may be times when the rivers are dried up sand bars and roads may be more efficient.
“There might be times, like along the Platt River, when instead of snaking back and forth, which is quite slow, I'll make better time by just getting out and hopping on a road,” Ridings said. “If it gets hot and dry and the river gets low and slow, then it might be better to get out and get beside it and run for a couple of days on roads. So I'll be changing things as I go along.”
Ridings and his dad have built two quadyaks and he has posted the plans and construction process to his Youtube page. Search for StereoRandy to find that page.
The first quadyak's frame was destroyed in a fire at his father's shop about two years ago and they finished rebuilding the machine last fall.
Ridings has spent the past few weeks refining the design with a number of trips on land around Carthage and on Kellogg Lake and the Spring River.
Ridings said he had taken the first quadyak on trips of up to 400 miles so he knows it's capable of long-distance travel.
“The longest unbroken trip I've done is 350 miles, that was starting and ending in Clinton, Missouri, coming down Highway 13, over on Highway 54, down to Osage Beach and got in the Osage River,” Ridings said. “From there I got to the Missouri, went down the Missouri for a while, came out at Mokane, got on the KATY trail and went back to Clinton. I call that the shakedown cruise, that was the first long one to test whether or not this thing had capabilities to do a long trip.”
When asked why he wanted to do such a long and complicated trip, he said, “this is what a bored retired Army officer looks like.”
“What do you do when you get out of the military?” Ridings said. “It's like, I'm not really an adrenaline junky, I don't need that bungy jumping thing, but there is that thing where you've got to have a goal, you've got to have something difficult to accomplish, and fun and adventurous and see the world, and if you can combine all that, well that's good.”