My name is Mark Paulissen. I have always enjoyed cycling. For years, I have commuted to work by bike for the fitness, health, and stress relieving benefits. Other passions include Ashtanga Yoga, which I have studied and practiced for 5 years and photography. On the Spirit of America Ride for Hydrocephalus, in our 2500+ mile cross- country journey, you can bet I’m looking forward getting some great shots!

I was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin (so my roots are definitely Cheesehead). Like many of my generation, at 21 years old, the balmy weather, sandy beaches, and healthy lifestyle lured me to Florida. I finished my liberal arts degree at the University of South Florida and stayed in Tampa. I love living in Florida and never planned to leave. In recent years, however, I realize life was turning into a rut and I have finally decided to shake things up a bit. If I’m going to make a big, life-altering move, I figured why not make it an adventure? Best of all, my cycling partner is as enthusiastic about this as I am!

Leaving everything behind and traveling somewhere between 2500 and 3000 miles by bicycle to start a whole new life may seem impulsive, but it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. I cannot remember an exact “aha!” moment. The idea of moving just gradually became more and more intriguing. The idea of doing it on a bicycle hit me a few months ago. The three biggest decisions after “Can I afford this?” were 1) What equipment do we need? 2) Which brand will work best? and 3) What route should we take?

Cycling Equipment

Most of our cycling gear, probably 95% including our bicycles, was bought online. Our primary consideration was staying dry, along with staying cool and warm, as weather dictates. We thoroughly researched rain gear, tents, and sleeping bags. We selected paniers both for the back and the front of both bikes. We thoroughly researched how much and what kind of clothing we would need as well. Our clothing has to be light, wic away moisture yet still have insulating warmth when layered. Of course, all our clothing has to be light and pack very small.



Ask us on the other side of our 2500+ mile cycling journey for firm recommendations but, based on extensive research, these are the brands we selected for our most important equipment:



We bought our several items, along with our bicycles through REI and chose REI's Novara brand as they are specifically designed for touring and the price fit within our budget.

For staying dry, we chose Showers Pass,  Portland, OR  company because of their reputation for quality rain gear. We were less picky when it came to tent and sleeping bags as we did not see a lot of differences between one manufacturer and another.

We chose Ortlieb panniers for their waterproof properties as well as weight.

The Route

We spent a great deal of time planning the route. Our cycling itinerary is mapped out with a few planned stops along the way, the timetable established, and almost all the arrangements have been made for what is officially dubbed the Spirit of America Ride for Hydrocephalus. In the remaining few days before we leave Tampa on September 5th, we just need to figure out how to pack everything we will each need for the next two months on two bicycles . Check out this video and comment if you think we can do it!


You can follow us on Twitter and our other social media channels for updates in the coming weeks and for more information on how you can support the Hydrocephalus Association.

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