PITTSBURG — Right when the semester ends, Nathan Hughes will be off on a 2,000 mile adventure down the west coast.
With long-time friend Austin Throckmorton, Nathan will travel on bicycle from Washington near the border of Canada to south of San Diego near the border of Mexico. This adventure should take about a month, Nathan said.
Nathan biked across Kansas last summer and has also rode his bike across Missouri with his friends.
“I’ve always been an endurance person,” he said.
Throughout high school he was on running teams and now that he is in college he has taken up bicycling.
“It’s a great way to travel, cars are too fast and walking is too slow,” he said.
Born and raised in Girard, Nathan has lived near the TransAmerica Trail where hundreds of cyclist go through each year. He meets with cyclists and has been a host for them during their travels through the area.
He too, has also been in those cyclists’ shoes. During his travels, he has stayed at a bed and breakfast built in 1809 and with ranchers out in western Kansas.
“You never know who you are going to meet,” he said.
Nathan was inspired by someone from the trail which won a Trans American Bike Race who bicycled 240 miles a day for 17 and a half days.
Nathan’s recent trip across Kansas took four days to travel 500 miles.
This summer he plans to take it up a notch.
An interest in telling stories was sparked after meeting folks during the trip across Missouri with his friends. One of his friend’s bikes broke down and the people who came to help called everyone they knew to get Nathan and his friends back on the road. They called up a friend named “Caveman” and since then, Nathan said he’s been curious about this individual’s story and why he had such a nickname.
Nathan has a goal of interviewing and photographing one person a day along the trail, which he will then share on social media and put in a book. He calls this the flatlander project.
“They are all different,” he said. “I like to meet people and tell other people’s stories.”
Not only will he be traveling on a bike and interviewing people, he will be fundraising for a cause. He plans to fundraise for Blackbox International which raises awareness about sex trafficking of boys. The proceeds from his book will also go towards the organization.
“My biggest motivation is meeting people and helping people … it’s not going to be easy but it is rewarding and is awesome,” he said.
Nathan said it took a lot of planning and preparing over the past several months — he has a folder for all the logistics and has made business cards to help people follow his journey.
But once you get out there the adventure begins he said.
“The only thing you have to do day in and out is peddling,” Nathan said. “You just have to peddle your bike … you meet people by chance and random stuff happens all of the time. It becomes an adventure at that point and that’s the best part.”
People can follow his journey this summer on instagram at nathan_j_hughes, his website flatlanderproject.com/ or on Facebook.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.