By Cedric Rogers
In March of 2018, after spending most of eight years in the New York City area, I returned to my family's home in Unity, Maine. Soon after, I released an album, Cedric and Him, and I began thinking of ways I could travel. Could I rent a car? No, I thought. It's too expensive to rent a car. Could I buy a car? No, I didn't have money to buy a car. Could I ride a bike? I had a bike. It's a ten-speed, an old Sears and Roebuck Free Spirit that I bought back in 2008 or 2009 from a neighbor of mine, David, while I was living in Belfast, Maine. David was an older man, in his early 80s I'd guess but still active, driving, walking, even shoveling snow after a storm. I saw David ride the bike, and then one day he wanted to sell it. $125, if I remember correctly. I bought it. I rode it some in Belfast and I probably rode it some in Unity before I moved to New York City, leaving it in the garage/attic.
When I saw the bike in the attic earlier this year, both tires were flat and both rubber wheels were cracked. I could buy new ones. I could put them on myself. Then, one day while standing on the river bank behind my parent's house, I met a man from the Amish community, William. The Amish community in Unity is thriving, and William happens to be a worker at the Amish bike shop, Unity Bike Shop. I spoke with William about a cart. I had seen some of the other Amish men pedaling around the area with carts attached to their bikes. I knew I'd need a cart. I'd have my guitar, an amplifier, clothes, a tent, a tarp, and more.
When I moved to New York City in 2010, my first job was working as a rickshaw delivery person for The City Bakery. The rickshaw is huge, able to hold its own on New York City streets, zigging and zagging, traveling alongside taxicabs and city buses. The rickshaw had a pod on the back and inside the pod a rack. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, I delivered supplies to the bakery's spin-off shops, Birdbath Bakery. Twelve-hour days were not uncommon. I'd pick up the rickshaw at 6:15 am and drop it off at 6:15 pm, give or take a few hours depending on the day. It was a great job. I enjoyed the cycling. I enjoyed being outside. I enjoyed spending time with my coworkers and the owner. Plus, I was in great shape. I knew I could get back into that great shape.
I had considered pedaling across the country, Maine to California. A guy I know, much older than me, had gone across the country twice, maybe three times. I don't want to short his accomplishment. In 2016, I toured westward in a car, New York to Michigan, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and then back to New York. In 2018, I wanted to try a new route, maybe an East Coast trip. I definitely wanted the starting point to be Maine. I did a Google search. There it was: the East Coast Greenway, Maine to Florida, wow.
I always think I can do big tasks. Sometimes I physically pay for thinking that way. That trip out west that I mentioned earlier, I drove the final thousand or so miles straight, stopping for gas of course, in a snow storm. When I got to my apartment, I took off my shoes and my feet and ankles were so swollen they were scary to look at. I think I panicked a bit. I thought I was going to faint. I scurried into the bathroom. I ran cold water in the tub, and I put my feet under the running water. I was hoping that'd make the swelling go down.
So, Maine to Florida on a bike, I think I can do that. I also need a little guidance on trips, and I think the East Coast Greenway gives me that guidance. I may stray some, but not too far, especially when booking gigs, and the East Coast Greenway will also guide me through urban areas as I know it does in New York City. I also enjoyed using the online East Coast Greenway map.
So I visited William at the bike shop. I bought tubes, tires, liners, backups for each, and the cart. I was ready to go. I left Unity, Maine, on July 25. I'll be playing several gigs on my trip. I intend to arrive in Key West, Florida, in October.
Follow Cedric on Instagram: @cedric_and_him
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