Sunday, October 16, 2011


After almost two months, I decided to write an epilogue for my bike tour blog.   I thought waiting awhile would provide me with better perspective.  Following are some of things I consider most when thinking about the tour.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  It was both very physically and emotionally challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.  Not just completing the whole tour, but every day.  Sometimes it feels like a dream, but I must have done it as I have pictures and witnesses. 

We live in a big beautiful country and there is no better way to see it than on a bicycle.  I remember not only the scenery, but also the smells.  Various parts of the country not only looked different, but also smelled different.  Though I enjoyed all areas, my favorite was NE Oregon.  I have spent a lot of time in Oregon, but not NE Oregon and I did not know how beautiful this area would be. 

We had a great group of individuals on the tour along with the staff.  Very bright, thoughtful, and funny individuals.  This led to great conversation, very refreshing in today’s polarized society  where demonizing and name calling those with whom we disagree is often common fare.  The age ranged from 22 to 74 and about three-fourths had some serious medical problem in their lives including 6 cancer survivors.  What life gives you is fate, what you give life is destiny. 

I love history, all history, from ancient Greece to the Roman empire, to medieval times to America’s frontier from the early 1600s to the late 1800s.  Riding through places that I had often read about was very interesting and provided great perspective. 

By profession and nature I am a planner, always thinking about the future and the past which provides perspective for today and tomorrow.  On the tour, I was in the moment the most I have ever been, today and tomorrow was all I thought about.  Though I am pretty good at avoiding most  the noise in our daily lives from cable tv, the internet, radio and print media, being able to avoid it totally for 50 days was very refreshing.  (I never listen to what is commonly called talk radio or tv.  I generally listen to shows which include the interview of an independent academic or journalist with credentials and expertise in a specific area along with professionals with expertise in an area.  I may not agree, but at least I can learn something.)

I had a lot of time to think on my bike and thought of lots of different things, but the three most often were friends and family, spiritual matters and politics.  Family and friends are core to our lives and what makes life meaningful.  I learned to appreciate them more.  Spiritual moments can take place in lots of different places, but for me riding on my bike in a beautiful area can lead to amazing moments of complete serenity.  In my estimation, the polarization of our country has gone beyond normal to toxic.  I am and have always been an independent moderate.  I often thought if I had millions of dollars and would get more than 10 votes, I would run as an independent for senate in ND. No matter who runs from each party, there is no doubt in my mind I would be better than whoever is elected. 

I turned 60 a few days before the tour started.  For the first time ever a birthday bothered me.  I was not sure if it was because I know a lot of people who are 60 and some are very old, others would look at me differently, I would look at myself differently.  On the tour, I was the youngest of 12 riders who were 60 or older.  I now no longer care.  Chronological age is not important.  What is important is how we live our lives along with how we take care of ourselves with diet and exercise. 

Would I do this again?  Maybe.  I have now biked around or through 18 different states and day rides in another 3 for a total of 21.  I have no goal to ride through all 50 states, but I do think I want to see more states by bike.  I can continue to do single state tours, but there is a ride across the southern tier of the US from San Diego to St. Augustine, FL, that looks pretty cool in two years.  Stay tuned, more to come.       

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 50

Done.  Today I completed something that only a very small percentage of the population can say they have done.  I biked across the United States and part of Canada.  And I was one of the riders on the tour that biked every mile.  A number of riders were forced to sag one day or more for a variety of reasons, injury, sickness or mechanical problems, but I was very lucky and did not have any of those problems, at least to the extent that it would have kept me from biking.  Including detours and missed turns, a total of 3,736 miles and according to my bike computer, 235,183 total calories burned. 

Today was a very easy day, it was only 50 miles and myself and the other riders took our time.  The first pictures are of the only rest stop and the last one of the tour.  The first two are of two of my best friends from the tour, Damien from Ireland and Diane from the Bay area in SF.  We were to all meet at a junior high about 3 miles from the beach, so with time to spare all riders stopped at a bakery about 10 miles from the junior high.  The first pictures are of the Netherlands group, brothers Andreias and Jan and Jan’s girlfriend Connie.  The second is of Nancy and Adrianne.  Nancy turned 69 on the tour and this is her fourth time biking across the US and this time she brought her daughter Adrianne.  Nancy has also done a number of international tours in various countries. 

The next pictures are from the junior high.  The first is of riders who are 60 and older.  Yes, I am in this group as I turned 60 a few days before the tour started.  One of the things I learned from the tour is age is just a number and does not define a person.  Though I hung out with individuals of all ages, three of my closest friends from the tour were 25 and younger.  Each had a magnetic personality and were very bright and thoughtful.  Individuals who are not set in their ways, are open to new ideas, have enlightening conversations, and can relate to anyone.  One of the individuals, Lucy who is 22 told me she learned on the tour that old people can be fun.  I assume she meant other old people, not me, though I am fun.  The second is a picture of the group.    

We had a police escort the 3 miles to the beach which was very cool.  The final pictures are of me arriving and dipping my wheels in the Atlantic Ocean.  Coast to Coast, pretty awesome.  Also there is a picture of Kim and I at the beach and then out for a very nice meal at a restaurant in a building that was built in 1785.  A great way to celebrate the end of the tour.   

After I have had some time to reflect on the Tour, I will add to the blog, but for now some thoughts. 

I want to thank Kim, Courtney and Morgan who supported me the whole tour but even more important encouraged me to do the tour. 

I want to thank my staff but before doing so, I want to thank my previous staff, Julie, Amanda, and Katie.  Without them or the foundation they helped build, we would not be where we are today.  I could send them gifts, but I am sure that would cheapen the moment for them.  Along with Courtney and Morgan, thank you Ryan, Stephanie, Ashley and Chelsey.  I am blessed with a very talented group  of individuals.  Thank you each of you very much. 

Biking coast to coast was pretty awesome.  More later. 

Day 49

We had a very nice day today.  Again we got lucky with the rain.  Though the road was wet in places, the rain had moved on by the time I got there.  I entered New Hampshire about two miles from the motel.  After taking days to cross the western states, it was weird going across  Vermont in a day yesterday.  When I talk with business people in New York City or Boston and I tell them I often drive from Fargo to our condo in Big Sky, MT, they often ask how many days it takes me to do so.  When I say one, they are amazed,  There is just a different sense of distance in the East.  Distance is often measured more in time than in miles. 

The first picture is me under the welcome New Hampshire sign.  The next two are of a creek we road next to for some time and wooded area.  New Hampshire lived up to its billing of being very beautiful.  The day started out as a combination of dense clouds and fog so riding through the valleys and climbing the hills was especially scenic as they were in and out of the fog.  It was easy to imagine what I looked like 250 years ago before the white settlers moved in. 

Tomorrow we go to the Atlantic Ocean.  Again the forecast is for rain.  We climb out of Manchester where we are staying tonight and then head for Portsmouth. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 48

Day 48 was difficult from two aspects.  It was one of the longest climbing days of the tour, over 5,000 feet.  Though not close to as high as the Rockies, the climbs were long and at times the grades were steep. Making it worse, was there were not shoulders and a lot of traffic.  I had more close calls today than in the previous days altogether.  I also had a flat tire which slowed me down.  Bruce and Dan, both from New York, stopped to help me fix it.  On this tour, if someone has a problem, other riders always stop to help.  Though it rained in the late afternoon and is still raining, I made it before the rain started. 

The route was scenic.  After a few miles we left New York and entered Vermont.  The first picture is of the Vemont sign.  The second is of farm land right after the sign with the mountains behind them.  The whole route was green like this.  We went through several small towns, one of which was having their blueberry festival.  We saw lots of pull outs on the road leading to hiking trails and a number of kayakers next to the river.  There were houses the whole way.  The last picture was of the view from the summit from the pass at Hogback Mountain.  On a clear day, the locals said you can see for 100 miles.  Kim and I definitely need to come back and spend more time here.  

The last picture is from supper.  Kim and I along with Karina, Jeff and Julie went out for supper at local restaurant next to the river.  The view was very nice and the food was great.  

Tomorrow we leave Vermont and enter New Hampshire.  Again a lot of climbing.  The forecast is for rain all day.   

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 47

Today started sad.  Damien, our rider from Ireland found out last night his brother-in-law died yesterday afternoon in Ireland.  He was 43, owned his own business and he and his wife had two little girls.  He was on his yacht and had a blood clot.  It is another reminder that life is not fair, but living life is always good.  One of our mottos on our website is “Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live for today."  It is important to study history, plan for tomorrow, but most important is to enjoy each day as there are never any guarantees.  Damien said he was riding for his brother-in-law today and we told him we all are.  His family told him he should finish the tour as that is what his brother-in-law would have wanted.

It was a very nice ride today.  We started in fog and climbed out of the valley to a ridge overlooking the Mohawk River.  It was very pretty but coming down the hill was a little exciting as between the fog and my glasses getting wet, it was tough to see the road.  The pictures are from the top of the climb and riders behind me.  The next pictures are of the Mohawk River and a lock on the River.  Biking through the Mohawk River valley was very cool. 

There are also pictures of myself at the first rest stop and Kim and I at the second.  Kim brought treats to the second rest stop and is a real hit with the riders.  Today she brought mini-chocolate bars, a chocolate cake and banana bread.  A nice change from the normal snacks we have had.  For me, it is awesome having her here. 

The last picture is from mechanics.  At mechanics, riders clean their bikes and if there are problems, Jim, the full time bike mechanic fixes them.  He is amazing and can fix anything.  Jeff is also there and he helps riders with their bikes.  He has taught me to clean my bike and made me a believer that it is important to do every day.

Tomorrow we leave New York and enter Vermont.  It looks to be a difficult day as we have one of the biggest climbing days of the year.  The forecast is for t-storms.       

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 46

Day 45 was a mosy day for me.  I did not feel bad, but not great either.  We had a slight headwind so I just took it easy and meandered the whole way.  I did make one wrong turn, but caught it right away.  I told the other riders I was exploring.  Once I got in,while I was stretching and cleaning my bike, Kim was exploring Little Falls.  She described it as a very old mill town producing cotton and wool among other items.  They just celebrated their 200 anniversary. 

The two pictures are of the Mohawk River and the road next to the river along with some riders.  There is so much early colonial and American history associated with this river and Mohawk Indian Nation, it was a very cool experience. 

The terrain today was rolling.  There were some farms and lots of trees; however, I would not describe it as rural.  There were very few times we were not going by houses.  Some were very nice, some were average and some were minimalistic.  There was a lot of traffic and though for the most part we had paved shoulders, some of the time we were on roads with no shoulders.  As with the rest of the ride, most drivers were very considerate, but because of the greater number of cars, it seemed like we had more drivers honk at us in an unfriendly manner. 

Tomorrow we ride to Latham.  So far the forecast looks good. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 45

Day 45 was good for me.  95 miles from Henrietta to Liverpool which is the north end of Syracuse.  After getting out of city limits we road along the Erie Canal for about 25 miles.  Though the trail was crushed gravel which made it more difficult, the canal is very impressive and the little towns that are by the canal were interesting.  The first three pictures are from the canal area.  The canal was started in 1817 to develop a water route from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.  By 1822, 220 miles of the canal were open.  It was very controversial at the time and many opposed the government investment in the future.  All those who opposed are forgotten by history but those that supported are part of history. 

The forecast was for rain today; however, I got an early start and though I was in sprinkles most of the day, never really got wet.  Many of those behind me got caught in a steady downpour.  I felt good and actually biked faster the last 60 miles today into a slight headwind and sprinkles than yesterday when I had a slight tailwind.  Kim brought treats to the second sag station which was most appreciated by the riders tired of the same snacks every day.

Syracuse was the original site of the Iroquois Confederation which was originally five Indian nations before expanding to six.  There has been much written how the Confederation was one basis for the colonial government for a representative form of government.  The Iroquois Confederation is an amazing story which I have read much about.  The Seneca were the west end of the Confederation and it is their lands which we are not biking through.

The next pictures are of a park and Lake Onondaga which we biked by on the way to the hotel.  The whole terrain today were green hills and farms in the valleys.  The last picture is of supper, one of my three favorite meals of the day.

Tomorrow we bike about 80 miles to Little Falls.