But he has found relief from PTSD on his bike, where he feels more grounded, his senses are heightened, and he can outpace the worry and anxiety.
Ultimately, his journey was met with mixed reactions — on the one hand, strangers took him to lunch, or gave him food or money. On the other, he was kicked out of the visitors center at Independence Hall in Philadelphia because he brought his bike inside.
And his ultimate destination had a sour undertone, Atehortua said. After riding on “pure adrenaline” for the final 45 miles, he collapsed with the effort at the memorial, and was very shortly berated by a park ranger who told him he couldn’t ride his bike through the area, and that he was being “disrespectful.”
In the end, Atehortua said, he doesn’t know whether he was on his bike to find himself, or to do just the opposite — leave all the pressures of daily life behind, and just focus on survival.
In either case, it was a “great, eye-opening experience,” he said. He had both good and bad moments, met interesting people who shared their dreams and goals with him, and realized things that people take for granted, but shouldn’t.
Atehortua’s advice: Find ways to get rid of stress, rather than passing it on. Life is about “being there as a person, being humble.”