Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Okay, I am a 61-year-old retired guy (retired two years now). I did most of my growing up in Southern California (graduated from San Diego State with degrees in math and physics). I spent 6 years in the Navy teaching physics to the sailors that would operate our nuclear submarines, and then 25 years at the University of North Carolina developing computer programs for planning out radiation treatments for cancer patients.
I have always loved the outdoors and especially cycling. I have a wife, two kids, and three grandkids, and now that I'm retired I have a lot of time to devote to my passion for the outdoors.
What made you ride from Bar Harbor to Vancouver?
I've been riding bikes since I was a teenager and have always wanted to go coast to coast across the country. Way back in 1981 when I graduated from college a friend and I rode from San Diego to the middle of Minnesota but didn't have time to get all the way across the country. As often happens, work/marriage/kids/etc got in the way of my being able to fulfill that dream and it kind of became a bucket list item. Now that I'm retired I was able to finally fulfill that dream.
As to why Bar Harbor Maine to Vancouver BC? Well, I have always liked the scenery and weather of the north much more than the south or Midwest, and I also love mountains so I ended up designing a route that would fulfill those criteria (some of the many highlights being Acadia National Park, Niagara Falls, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Banff, and Lake Louise). I had actually originally planned to go from west to east rather than east to west to make use of the prevailing winds, but that route would have put me immediately into the Canadian Rockies which meant that I wouldn't be able to start until around mid-June (due to snow blocking the mountain passes). That wasn't a problem in the planning phase until near the end of 2016 when my daughter informed me that she was blessing us with a grandchild, due in mid-July. So I quickly changed my plans and moved the start date all the way up to April 25 and the only way to do that was to start in the east and hope the spring weather would cooperate. Turns out that “cooperate” is in the eye of the beholder – it rained almost every day for the first two weeks! One of my life mottoes is “It's all part of the adventure” so by about day 5 I was actually hoping each day that I would see at least see some rain just to keep the streak going.
Why did you go solo?
Well, I am a very self-sufficient, self-contained kind of guy, and as stated above I'm a bit demented so I wasn't at all sure I could put up with someone else, or (maybe more importantly) that they could put up with me day after day for 70+ days! Do I regret doing it on my own? Not a bit.
Which charity did you choose in Charity Miles during this and why?
That was a fairly easy choice. One of my previous co-workers is having to deal with Multiple Sclerosis so the MS Society was a no-brainer for me.
Every morning throughout the trip, when you got back on that bike, what did you think to motivate yourself?
That was definitely a big question in my mind as I was planning the trip – would I actually succeed or would I find an excuse to wimp out? During the planning phase and during the first couple of weeks of the journey I kept asking myself how far into the trip (weeks, days, or maybe even just hours?) would it be before I asked myself that all-important question: “Why in God's name am I doing this?”. It turned out that I never did get to the point (or even close to the point) of asking myself that question. Even the first couple of weeks of constant rain didn't dampen my enthusiasm (some might say that that is an indication of just how “bent” my personality might be; I just look at it as a positive side effect of being demented!). Fulfilling this lifelong dream was motivation enough. I will say though that there was one unexpected motivator: before I started I had committed myself to writing a daily online journal to keep my family and friends updated on my progress. Before I started, that was also a big question in my mind: am I really going to keep up with the demands of an online journal at the end of every exhausting day? It turned out that the journal was a great motivator for this solo ride because I would spend many of my biking hours thinking about what I would write each night and that made the miles and hours pass by so much easier. By the end of the day's ride, I already knew what I wanted to write, and the day's adventures had been committed to memory. I would wake up in the morning thinking “What will this day bring me that I can write about”. It also helped immensely that over the previous few years, I had done several weeks to 10-day solo rides so I knew to a large extent what I was getting myself into.
What message would you like to tell our audience?
Life is short and opportunities are boundless, but don't let the drudgery of daily life get in the way of your dreams. My big dream turned out to be 77 days, 4865 miles, and a whole lot of fun and memories. But as important as that BIG trip was, the daily practice rides leading up to it were just as important. I ended up cherishing all 10,325 miles I put in this year and look forward to what 2018 and beyond hold for me. And you don't have to wait until retirement years to accomplish some of your goals. I had been putting in 5000+ miles/year for the five years before retirement.
I also love the fact that each of those miles contributed a little bit to a charity I hold dear. CharityMiles is a wonderful app and I am now logging walking, running, and biking miles as I prepare for an upcoming 12-hour Adventure Race (maybe I'll “cheat” and record my kayaking miles also). Whatever your activities are, I hope you use the app each time you go out. It adds a “side of significance” to what otherwise might be looked at as “drudgery training miles.