Austin's Interstate Obed Boundary Commute
It all started with a favor. Austin Sullivan’s brother lives in Atlanta, and, really, it was a simple ask: return his loaned van back to him. Only hang-up: Sullivan lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. —one state and 165 miles away.
Lucky for him, there was plenty of room in the van for his ride home.
On November 1st, the 31-year-old Sullivan, a bike builder for American Bicycle Group, decided that there was one best way to get back home to Chattanooga: go by bike. “I was thinking about options,” Sullivan said, “and it came to me: ‘y’know, I’ll just ride back up.”
The decision would make for an unforgettable commute back home. After making a mental checklist of what it would take to make the ride, and how long to traverse the northeastern route from Atlanta to southern Tennessee would take, he got on the computer and started planning.
“I’d done long bikepacking events and 150-mile mountain bike events, so I knew what I was in for with a full day of riding,” Sullivan said.
With Google maps, A Kamoot routebuilding app, a cursory check of the weather forecast, he built a plan for his day in the saddle.
He then got his ride—an Obed Boundary—dialed, making sure it was outfitted for a full day of pedaling. That meant having a place for everything, and everything in its place. “I loaded a tool roll to the bottom of the downtube, which held my pump, Tubolito tubes, a multitool and a first aid kit,” he said. The rest of his loadout was to stay fed, and stay warm in the waning days of Daylight Savings Time. “The top tube storage was full of snacks, and my seatbag had extra layers and armwarmers.
The ride turned into just what he’d hoped: an adventure. Kicking off his full day of riding at 6am, Sullivan was joined by a friend on the opening miles outside Atlanta on the Silver Comet Trail. He soldiered on solo headed west along a rails-to-trails path, and simply explored.
“We’d just had a big storm, so I found myself trying to get past downed power lines in the city, and had to get across two bridges that had washed out,” he said. “And the roads, were just beautiful, coming through a rural area of Georgia I’d never been.”
Switching between rural roads and gravel roads, Sullivan saw it all in a day.
“I counted a couple deer in the woods, hit a couple climbs I wasn’t expecting, and just enjoyed a lot of twisting backcountry.”
By the end, Sullivan says, “I was ready for it to be done.” With twilight upon him, he passed through the Chickamauga Battlefield, site of a historic Civil War battle between Union and Confederate armies. “ I’d never really had a chance to soak in such a historic place in such a setting,” he said, “but.. I was ready to get home by that point.”
A few more miles and after an early 6 a.m. start in Georgia, he rolled home an hour after sunset at 7 p.m. with 165 miles under his belt in just over 11 hours, with nearly 7,900 feet of climbing in his legs.
And of course, there was a van successfully delivered, and a great story to tell.
Austin Sullivan’s Interstate Commute Build
Bike: Obed Boundary
Drivetrain: Shimano GRX 810 Di2, 2x
Wheels: Hed Emporia GA disc, 700c
Tires: Panaracer GravelKing SK, 43mm
Saddle: Shimano PRO Stealth
Seatpost: Easton EA70
Hydration: Wolftooth B-Rad Cage base, two bottle cages
Storage: Rogue Panda Oracle Downtube Tool Bag; Top Tube nutrition bag, Saddle bag
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