The Drake family of four are embarking on a 6,200 mile journey to both enter into the Guinness World Records book and to promote a greater green awareness among the public. Tomas Cortijo, 40, the head of the family, will be riding an electric or e-bike the entire distance. His wife, Dylan, who is 37, will be driving a support vehicle with their two children, Eva, 4, and Constantino, 2. She will be riding a second e-bike on parts of the odyssey, though her miles logged will not count towards Tomas potentially getting into the Guinness World Records book.
The Drakes will be leaving from Missoula, Montana and their ultimate destination will be Key West, Florida. They will be making a documentary of their incredible journey, traveling through states to the east of Montana up north, even traveling into Maine, before eventually heading down towards Florida.
According to Dylan, “We expect to leave by Thursday, August 21st, and arrive at our final destination by the end of January 2015.”
Both Tomas and Dylan will be filming their attempt to enter into the Guinness World Records book. As Dylan states, they “will have two action cameras attached to both the support vehicle and the bicycle that Tomas will be riding, as well as our Canon Digital SLR for other shots as needed throughout the journey.”
The Drakes are funding the majority of the cost of their e-bike odyssey themselves. They have a Kickstarter program set up, but the goal of it is, according to Dylan, to “help us get some of equipment we need to film and cover the editing costs of creating the finished product. We hope we can get this message across to our potential backers – this isn’t another campaign to raise money for traveling. We are going to work hard to deliver a documentary about attaining a goal, about family, and about traveling that we hope will inspire people to live their dreams and to get out of their cars.”
What follows is an interview Guardian Liberty Voice conducted with Dylan Drake in which she goes into greater depth about the amazing journey that she and her family will be undertaking. Also, a video will follow below. Check it out!
Douglas Cobb: What types of bike(s) are you going to be riding? How much do they/did they cost?
Dylan Drake: The bike is a regular Hardtail 29″ mountain bike (wheel size is 29 inches, and it has suspension only in the front wheel). It’s actually one of the the most most affordable bikes in the market (just under $500 to purchase). We sourced the motor and batteries from China, and it’s a mid-drive motor that operates up to 750 watts at 48 volts.
Douglas Cobb: You wrote that, in part, you wanted to spread an environmental message about “going Green.” Would you elaborate on that?
Dylan Drake: A big motivation for us to get on bikes was our 25,000 mile trip we just completed driving from Argentina to the US. We were sick to death of being stuck in a car when we returned!
We also noticed that in the rest of the countries we passed through south of the border, owning a vehicle is a luxury, and the majority of the people walk, bike, or use public transportation. When we stopped in a place for awhile along our route we began to enjoy this different pace of life, which created so many opportunities to interact with other people, enjoy the outside environment, and get exercise. It was quite a contrast to cross the border into the US and find ourselves in the land of the car again.
After living outside of the country for so long (we lived 3 years in Argentina prior to our 1 year road trip home) we could really noticed the difference in the way our towns and cities are structured here in the US. Here, cities are designed for motor vehicles and are actually dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s terrible because not only does our reliance on cars keep us separate from one another, but it’s bad for the air we breathe and our health.
We know that for the average American, ditching their car in favor of a bicycle is unrealistic – they may be too out of shape or live too far from their daily destinations. That is where electric bicycles can fill an important need. The small motor – which is powered by a rechargeable battery – can get commuters to a cruising speed of 20 to 30 mph without breaking a sweat, or give you that extra push when hauling your kids or groceries around. Though the electric bike is powered by a motor, you still have to pedal so riders do still get exercise.
We love that electric cars are becoming more widely available, but they are still very expensive, so only a few privileged drivers can afford them. Electric bicycles are another story – they are an affordable, clean mode of transportation that is much cheaper than a car. We have been riding and building electric bicycles at home since 2009, and are surprised that more people in the US don’t know what they are. So we decided to spend our last year on the road doing our part to spread awareness to of this clean, efficient mode of transportation by attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest electric bicycle ride!
Douglas Cobb: How long does a charge last, and can you charge up an e-bike from a regular household outlet?
Dylan Drake: A battery can be charged in about 7 hours on any regular outlet and a charge lasts about 20 to 30 miles (depending on the amount of pedaling). We’ll be carrying 6 of those batteries (they weight about 12lbs each) to make sure we never run out of power.
Douglas Cobb: How long does it take to make the motor and get it attached to a bike?
Dylan Drake: About 8 hours of work to install the motor and all of the components.
Are there plans online? You can find some information on YouTube, but we recommend reading Micah Toll’s book The Ultimate Do-It-Yourself E-Bike Guide, which gives great instruction for beginners, and covers sourcing the parts as well as installing them.
Douglas Cobb: How much does it cost to make a bike electric?
Dylan Drake: If you source the motors directly from manufacturers in China, you can put one together for about $1000.
Douglas Cobb: How much in the way of supplies, clothing, etc., are you transporting with you?
Dylan Drake: We learned after traveling for a year that the less you bring the better. You reach a sort of zen state in relation to your personal possessions. The more you carry, the more you will be dragged down. So we will be traveling with the bare minimum – camera equipment, laptops, tools, a weeks worth of clothes, a backpack of toys for each of our children, and our sleeping bags and cooking gear. We’ll also have to carry spare bike parts in case the bicycle breaks down.
Douglas Cobb: How many miles, in total, are you planning on traveling?
Dylan Drake: Our total route is going to be about 6,200 miles, which will put us 2,200 miles over the current world record holder.
Douglas Cobb: How many miles do you plan on traveling per day? Do you have a course mapped out yet? Will you sight-see on the way?
Dylan Drake: We have set the goal of traveling 100 miles per day, which would be about 5 hours of riding on an electric bicycle. We will be following routes mapped out by a non-profit group which is located here in our hometown of Missoula – Adventure Cycling Association. They have mapped over 40,000 miles of cycling routes in North America, and provide GPS points and paper maps.
We’ll be riding on a combination of bike paths, dirt roads, and side streets from Missoula, up through Glacier National Park, east to circle south of the Great Lakes and up to Maine, then south along the East Coast to Key West, Florida. We will absolutely be sightseeing along the way as we want to include as much footage as we can of the landscapes and history of the regions we’ll be passing through.
Douglas Cobb: Do you have a working title for the documentary? How will fans be able to see it when it’s finished?
Dylan Drake: The working title of our documentary is “World Record Family: Pedaling America for a Greener World.” For a donation to $25 on our Kickstarter campaign, we will send a link to our fans to watch the film online a week before it is released. We’ll also keep everyone updated on our Facebook page with more information as the film editing wraps up, so we invite everyone to go ahead and “like” our page at facebook.com/camperclan. We plan on submitting the finished documentary to film festivals around the country, and with any luck, fans may be able to see our film in the theater!
Douglas Cobb: You will be driving a support vehicle, then, with supplies in it, right? What type of vehicle will it be?
Dylan Drake: That is correct. We have a Chevrolet Express 15-passenger van that runs on Flex-Fuel. We have converted the inside to include a foldout bed, built-in storage for our clothes and a refrigerator.
Douglas Cobb: I saw the video at the site you and your family have — it looks pretty cool! How did you get the funds in the first place for all of the traveling that you have been doing?
Dylan Drake: Thanks! To fund our travels, my husband and I have been saving for years. We have always lived cheaply, paid cash instead of buying on credit, and recycled used items instead of buying new. After 10 years of living frugally, we decided to enjoy ourselves a bit while the kids are young.
Douglas Cobb: Where did you meet your husband, Tomas?
Dylan Drake: Tomas and I met through mutual friends when he was visiting southern California and I was living in San Diego. I was already friends with some good friends of his who I met when I was attending college. When Tomas later came to visit they connected us and the rest is history!
Douglas Cobb: Will you be camping out along the way?
Dylan Drake: We will be camping in our van along the way. We hope to be able to find plenty of campgrounds and National Forest to camp in – otherwise we may be stuck spending the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot with the rest of the RV crowd! Though if we pass through a major urban area, we will likely spend some nights in a hotel.
Douglas Cobb: Do you have plenty of warm clothing ready? You might very well eventually need it. Even in northern Florida, in the winter, it can get a little below freezing.
Dylan Drake: Yes, we have geared up with full body rain gear, which we can layer on top of warm polar fleeces, hats, and scarfs. We even have some balaclavas to keep our faces warm, and goggles. If it’s not enough, we’ll find the closest outfitter and get what we need along the way. If we hit any big storms we can ride them out for up to 14 days in one spot and still be within the Guinness guidelines. Plan B will be to head south and continue our route through areas with warmer weather, especially if we run into a lot of winter storms.
Douglas Cobb: Are both of your children below school age?
Dylan Drake: Yes, they are below school age – 4 and 2. This is our last big trip before our oldest starts school in 2015, at which point we will live a more settled life!
Douglas Cobb: Thanks, Dylan, for your great answers! Guardian Liberty Voice readers will be following this extraordinary odyssey in the coming weeks and months and reading about the experiences that you all go through on your journey into the Guinness World Records book!
Written By Douglas Cobb
Drake Family Attempts Guinness World Record/Kickstarter Video