Do You EFI? 4   Recently updated !

When I was co-leading the Trans Am trip this summer, there was a Swedish couple who was determined to ride the entire length of the Trans American bicycle route. They are what we call EFI-ers or folks who ride Every F*#&ing Inch or to put nicely, Every Foot and Inch. I thought I’d shed some light and my opinion on being an EFIer.

The EFI Mentality

The need to ride your bike the entire way on a journey is not a new concept. In fact, one of the most appealing goals of bike touring is just that. You simply get on your bike from your home and ride until you reach your destination the ENTIRE way.

Bikes restingOf course, this makes sense if you started bike touring with the mindset of being self-sufficient. Usually, those who are self-supported will want to ride every foot and inch. It’s part of the challenge. It’s part of the appeal or the draw to the adventure.

When I started bike touring, this was my mentality. I wasn’t aware of any other options to travel by bike until I went on my Arthritis Foundation ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica, where the concept of a SAG (Support And Gear) vehicle was introduced to me.

People actually prefer not to be on the saddle all the time. Usually, folks who have physical handicaps or are older would prefer to bike tour, and riding EFI is not even considered.

Why EFI Is Good

Having an EFI mindset can be a good thing in the overall building of character in a person. It says you want that challenge and has the determination to accomplish a goal.

imageThis translates very well to life as it builds on the habit of having perseverance and focus. I’m not sure about you, but having a goal and the intention to complete it at any cost is admirable. We strive to be rewarded for our hard work.

To have the drive and motivation to push on regardless of circumstances takes discipline. Only good things will happen if we push ourselves.

Not to mention, when you do ride the entire way, you feel a certain amount of pride.  You are perceived as an inspiration to others.


Why EFI Is Bad

On the other hand, being too focused on traveling every bit of the way may not be realistic. While bike touring, you’re not going to have sunshine and tailwinds every day.

Enroute to the oceanThere will be days where you’re going to have major setbacks, like terrible weather conditions, mechanical issues, or even personal injuries that will shut your ride down whether you like it or not.

Having an EFI attitude is not useful at these moments as you lose the ability to be flexible.

During our Trans Am trip, we were not allowed to have our group enter Yellowstone National Park due to the rules of the park. We were expected to shuttle everyone in and then let them start their ride in the middle of the park.

Of course, our Swedish couple protested this and questioned why. We finally had to sign them  off our trip so that they could wake up at 4AM to start their ride through the park in order to meet up with the rest of the group.

Luckily, they were strong riders so it wasn’t an issue, but if they weren’t so fit and continued to be headstrong about the EFI philosophy, we would have had a more complicated issue to deal with as we may have had to abandon them at Yellowstone.  

Trans Am Van 2016

Trans Am Van 2016


A big component of the EFI mentality is a person’s pride. Pride can be a friend or a foe. It can be the wind in your sail of life to push your forward or it could be the anchor of a sinking ship.

Sometimes we are so blinded by pride that we fail to recognize a sinking ship because we want to be right. We hold on to something that seems inevitable to fail that you ignore all dangers and risks.

I think having an EFI philosophy on your bike tours is generally good when you’re traveling by yourself. On the other hand, It is a problem when you negatively affect others who are traveling with you.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Flipping the Switch

I was once an EFIer but after my Trans Europe trip last year, I learned that it’s okay to let that go. During that trip, I had to make some compromises with my partner, Harry.

At the beginning of the trip, our goal was to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. My expectation was that we were going to ride every inch of the way, but you’ll notice that our trip included train rides. We never did make it across to the Black Sea.

Some would say this is a major failure, but I don’t see it that way. It’s true I didn’t ride every inch across Europe, but having the opportunity to even attempt it or ride parts of it was still a big deal.

I shifted my mindset and embraced the fact that bike touring isn’t all about the mileage. It is more than that and it ties in well with another article I wrote. When you look back on your journeys, would you discredit the trips you didn’t ride the entire way? I certainly wouldn’t. I still rode across Europe.

Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think about this. Are you an EFIer? Why do you do it? Do you think you’ll always be an EFIer?

Share with us in the comments below or on any social media platforms. I would love to hear what you think about this topic.

About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

4 thoughts on “Do You EFI?

  • Mark Clouse

    Very insightful! The mental commitment is how we persevere, but at the same time we need to remember that it’s not the destination, It is the journey. Kind of a challenge for any traveler.

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      Hey Mark! I completely agree with your views that it’s not the destination but rather the journey that keeps us going. Thanks for the comment.

  • Antony swinbourne

    Sometimes time constraints or road conditions dictate whether to EFI or not.
    I cycled through France, Switzerland and Italy to Rome last year. It took 6 weeks to get there (most of the way by bike).
    I chose to take the train a couple of times in France;
    First to reach a Couchsurfing host at a reasonable hour (the route was slow going that day) and secondly to catch up with another cycle tourist who was doing a similar route but was a day ahead of me.
    Tempting as it was, I returned home from Rome by travelling on regional trains and bicycle. I still took a week.
    6 weeks was a long time – returning back a different route would’ve taken longer.
    I’m glad I did what i did, as there was torrential rain the week after I arrived home.
    There were sections that I cycled that I would’ve like to avoid – likewise I missed out on some nice sections… c’est la vie!

  • jhmilyko

    I knew when I left on my trip this summer I was not an EFIer. At least I did in my head. My ego on the other hand was a bit crushed when I took that first ride due to a nasty and potentially dangerous weather situation. And then again when I was behind schedule and needed a push to keep me on schedule. By my third ride, again due to weather, I learned to enjoy the break and soak up the time with my trail angel. These moments were every bit as important and forward moving for me as the miles I pedaled.

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