Chris Hytha

See America Right

This article first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Amid the stress and hardship of 2020, many people were positioned to evaluate their lives, sometimes taking a hard pivot to get on track with the life they hoped to lead. For my friends and me, this meant finally embarking on a three-month bicycle journey across the U.S. to break out of the poisonous nine-to-five routine. We wanted to experience America in the realest terms, one mile at a time.

In the beginning, it was simple: four friends, four bicycles, and 4,000 miles ahead of us. Just head west! June 20, 2020, at 5:30 AM, we set off from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, on this epic voyage, completely ignorant of the mountains of lessons awaiting us on the road.

Cycling across America has a way of clearing one’s mind. The moment the pedaling started, the daily stressors began to fizzle away. Instead of worrying about finances, work, relationships, and the state of the world, our minds were focused on more manageable questions. Where will we sleep? What will we eat? Which way do we go? The whole of our existence was distilled down one mission: get to California. This simplification served as an opportunity to really get to know ourselves.

It was also an opportunity to get to know the country, to see it as plainly as we learned to see ourselves. And in that clear light of day, whether it was the cool hue of a sun rising on your back or the warm majesty of an old Kansas road as the sun set, it was truly blissful. The tranquility of these moments cannot be overstated. From the small coal towns in Appalachia to the impressive peaks of the Rockies and the vast open desert of Nevada, there is peace to be found in every setting.

The ability to capture it all with a camera is almost as valuable as the experience itself. The U.S. is an extraordinarily diverse country, housing pockets of unique character and culture as we made our way across. While the trip will remain ingrained in our memories for a lifetime, photographs allow us to travel back and relive the journey all over again. Not only do they remind us of our adventure, they also serve as a medium to communicate the experience with others. The photos in this series tell a story of the nuances of small-town America and offer a glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.  

A glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.
We finished the day on top of Lizard Head Pass in Colorado well past sunset. I took the opportunity to experiment with a long exposure to capture a taillight in motion. 
Chris Hytha

A glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.
These oil pumps are some of the few objects scattered across the vastness of the Midwest. John went to take a closer look. 
Chris Hytha
A glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.
We saw an abandoned van in the distant desert while crossing through Utah. Of course, we had to explore it! 
Chris Hytha
A glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.
This image captures the expansive feel of the Midwest.
Chris Hytha
A glimpse into the less-talked-about corners of this beautiful country.
This image features one of the most desolate rides of the journey between Milford and Baker, Nevada. It was shot on a 600mm lens to capture the ridge in the distance.
Chris Hytha


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David Predeger July 8, 2021, 12:35 PM

The magazine was taken to another level this month, possibly new leadership. The photo essay was great and the cover really caught my attention. Wonderful stories as well. I must agree with previous comment that climbing on a oil rig and publishing a photo was not a great idea. Keep the magazine "popping". (Retired photojournalist)

Luc Rheaume July 8, 2021, 4:32 AM

Just recently ended in Bar Harbor ,July 4, 2021. From Astoria Oregon, a 10 week ride across OUR Great country, solo , you get to experience the beauty of the land and it's people .

Get on your bikes and take a two week or two month ride .

David Olson July 7, 2021, 4:42 PM

I can't even imagine that you would post a picture of someone trespassing on an oil rig. What a perfect way to get arrested, electrocuted or killed they aren't toys. Bicyclists don't need the reputaion that they are trespassers. What are you thinking????

Phillip Witzke July 7, 2021, 3:33 PM

Oh how I long to sit in the saddle and peddle across the vast open spaces and experience America a mile at a time. How fortunate you are to have been able to experience such simplicity and the beauty that our great land holds. I am jealous. One day...

Reinhard July 7, 2021, 2:14 PM

Great write! Instantly makes me wish to visit the U.S. again. As if I weren't longing to do so alread, that is... Hope EU citizens will be allowed to soon, if vaccinated.

John Sieber July 7, 2021, 12:45 PM

Love this! Great photos!

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