On Sunday, after more than 3,000 miles on the road, Jeffrey Tanenhaus pedaled his 45-pound Citi Bike onto the Santa Monica Pier in sunny Southern California.
It was the final length in a journey that had taken the 35-year-old from what he describes as a dead-end career in Brooklyn to a five-month bike ride across America. And now, a bit overwhelmed after upending his life to cycle across the country, Tanenhaus is sure of only one thing.
“I’m not interested in rejoining the rat race in New York City,” Tanenhaus told GrindTV. “I don’t know where I’ll end up next, but it’s not going to be another desk job in the city. If that happens that would completely negate the whole purpose of this trip.”
The purpose of his trip — in simplistic terms — was something most everyone can relate to: Tanenhaus wanted to be happier. He had grown disenchanted with the day-to-day reality of life in the Big Apple. He felt as though life was passing him by, and the only real respite provided to him from constant, daily ennui came from the moments he was commuting around the city on a Citi Bike (the cycles of New York City’s bike-share program).
“I was pretty unhappy with what I was doing, working in a windowless office,” said Tanenhaus. “But when I was able to actively commute on a Citi Bike and be outside and exposed to the city and constantly in motion, that was the most gratifying part of my day. I felt in control and independent.”
And so, after planning for some time and quitting his job in corporate events planning in November 2014, Tanenhaus decided to take a cumbersome Citi Bike, point it west and start pedaling.
To hear him describe it, Tanenhaus wasn’t really sure how far he would get, but he was committed to going somewhere new.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Tanenhaus. “I’ve never done bike touring and I’ve never biked outside of New York. But I am an experienced traveler and I wanted to see the country. I never really thought I would finish all the way in California, but I figured I would take it slowly one day at a time, and just see how far I got.”
He ended up making it to his final destination. Along the way, the website he started to document his travels, Countri Bike, developed a following. Online, fans posted messages of support, and fellow cyclist enthusiasts asked him if they could join him for portions of his trip.
Through it all, Tanenhaus said he never lost his sense of amazement.
“I’m still unpacking this experience,” said Tanenhaus. “I had some great people come out and meet me throughout the ride. It all was pretty incredible.”
When asked for what he gleaned from the trip, Tanenhaus is concise in his evaluation.
“Not to sound trite, but really my biggest takeaway is that if you put your mind, and in this case your legs, to something you can achieve any goal,” said Tanenhaus. “More than anything else, don’t let anything get in the way of you doing something that will improve your happiness.”
More from GrindTV