In 2020, many picked up hobbies old and new remaining in quarantine during the pandemic. But for recent Georgia Tech graduate, and Walton High School alum, Ali Amirfazli, his new hobby was taken to the absolute extreme. Currently residing with his parents in East Cobb, Amirfazli decided to take the trip of a lifetime biking more than 2,200 miles from Georgia to Los Angeles, CA last December.
“I love traveling. I see it as a way to explore and push my limits and see what I can get out of where I’m going,” Amirfazli said.
After graduating from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s in Computational Science and Engineering, Ali decided to reward himself with this trip before beginning his master’s program the following semester. Although his family remained reluctant, they supported his decision and tracked his whereabouts to ensure his safety. Amirfazli cites his older sister as his own “spiritual anchor” and motivator before he left.
“I spent too much time convincing myself I could do it and I spent too much time on my bike to turn back now…I walked out of my own house by my own power on my own bike and that’s how I got to LA,” Amirfazli said.
He started travelling on December 6 with the intent of reaching Los Angeles by the 31st to meet with some friends who agreed to fly there and celebrate his birthday on New Year’s Day. With a little less than one month to reach his destination, he calculated biking roughly 100 miles each day for the trip to be a success. With nothing but a vintage bicycle purchased off Craigslist, a couple of mapping apps, and a few thousand dollars in savings, he was off to Cali battling snow, rain, and wind among many conditions.
“Being outside was good for mental health and super important…I was trying to appreciate…being outside and exploring all of this,” Amirfazli said. “I learned how I respond to setbacks…whether it was an issue with the road or horrible conditions…I could prove to myself that I was better than these setbacks.”
For most cyclists, it would take years of experience and preparation before deciding to tackle a trip like this, but that was not the case for Amirfazli who just started biking less than a year before leaving. He trained daily for months simulating different conditions, circumstances, and distances.
“My thought process in all of this was that in my training, I wanted to be as miserable as possible and I wanted to hate being on the bike so that when it came to the actual trip, I would be comfortable,” Amirfazli said.
Documenting his travels via Instagram, he reduced his daily mileage to allow for his friends to arrive in LA before he did. Amirfazli arrived safe and sound. Without regretting a single moment, he offered a few words of advice for those hoping to also complete the journey.
“Know why you’re there and be sure about it…you have to create your own meaning for when things aren’t going so well. Be sure about it and if your motivation is true, you can endure it,” Amirfazli said. “Those aspects of wanting to travel and wanting to explore, the good comes with the bad.” For more details and photos of Ali’s trip, visit his Instagram account @Ali2Cali.
By Adam Darby
This article originally appeared in the EAST COBBER July/August issue. You can access the digital edition HERE.
How does a cycling session around the country sound to you? Would you ever try something like this? Let us know in the comments!