While parking our bikes at the library early this morning, we struck up a conversation with a gentleman doing the same. The conversation was sparked because of the loaded panniers, sleeping bag, and "road trip" condition of his bike. Seems he was on the return side of a pretty epic adventure following a near tragedy.
He said he had beaten cancer in the spring of last year and the battle had left him badly out of shape yet with a new lease on life. He felt he needed to enjoy life to it's fullest and see the country while at the same time getting back into shape. After saving every penny he could for six months, he set out from Bismark, North Dakota to the shores of California in August 2011.
Through the Beartooth and Absoroka ranges of Montana and Wyoming into Yellowstone and then the Tetons, he pushed through Idaho and Nevada on his way to Northern California. From San Francisco to San Diego he rode the Pacific Coast Highway camping and sightseeing along the way. His use of motels was very limited and it was apparent he had spent the majority of nights under the stars.
As winter was gripping the northern states, he began his trip back home with another push up the coast of California. As winter began turning to spring, he followed the Oregon coast and eventually Portland. This leg of the trip would see the Columbia River valley along with a trek north across Washington to Spokane and then across the sliver of northern Idaho into Montana. Across the continental divide and the northern Rockies, his trip led him from Missoula to his current stop in Bozeman.
As he was gathering some hygiene items and anxious for the e-mail the library would provide, I asked about his thoughts on blogging or writing an article on his adventure. He said he had given a couple interviews in California when he was approached by reporters and this prompted him to write detailed notes of his trip should he wish to put pen to paper. The rest of our conversation involved bike maintenance, road hazards, weather, and planning. He had taken them all in stride and gave the impression that he was never too concerned, but had faith in enjoying the trip and the next day's miles.
He would soon be home with both a monumental victory and life changing adventure in his memory. It was an inspiring story and a great encounter. You never know the plight of the man or woman next to you on the street.
We hope to see this story told in a book, blog, or article over the next several months and wish him the best of success in his future endeavors!