Barb and I are still in good health and enjoying life in Park City, Utah. The last year has been relatively quiet, with road biking in the summer. My wife and I spent a week biking through Glacier National Park including Going-to-the-Sun-Road. We plan to spend two weeks in Ireland this summer seeing the sights by bicycle. The most exciting event was the birth of our granddaughter Penelope. She lives only 25 minutes away. Of course, I can’t fail to mention a fabulous ski season. Cheers to all!
For those who are interested, this is a train of thought for my attempt to ride a bicycle across the U.S. Even though I bought my first 10-speed Schwinn Continental in grad school, I didn’t start seriously riding until about 1990 after I had begun my orthopedic practice in Dover, Delaware. It was a great way to unwind. One of the first riding events that I did was the MS Bike to the Bay with John Glenn, a general surgeon, and Bob Radnich, an OB-GYN. We had a great time on that two-day, 150-mile ride. At some point I met up with the Dover bike riding group, who were all younger than me and I had a hard time keeping up with them, but it was always fun. Sometime around 2006, at the age of 60, I began thinking of riding across the U.S. I realized that I would have to wait until I retired, in order to take that much time off, and also have the time to train. I retired at the end of 2012 and signed up to ride cross country in the fall of 2015 with Trek Travel. That plan was thwarted by total knee surgery in May 2015. A second plan for the fall of 2017 was also thwarted by a second total knee surgery. Dr. Phil Davidson did an excellent job of two knee replacements and I was soon climbing the hills of Park City. To add difficulty to the plan I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015. They say the third time’s a charm, so in November of 2020, I hired a cycling coach and began training.
I didn’t publicize this attempt, because I didn’t want to explain to everyone why it never got off the ground, but it has gotten off the ground, and my wife Barb and I started the adventure of a lifetime. We rented a Sprinter van for a support vehicle and on Saturday, July 10, Barb and I set off for Oregon. On Sunday, July 11, we arrived in Astoria, Oregon late in the afternoon on a beautiful sunny day. After checking into the hotel, we changed into our cycling clothes and headed to Fort Stevens Park on the coast. Upon arriving at the coast, I did the mandatory dipping of the bike in the Pacific Ocean, started my Garmin and headed back for a short 16-mile ride to Astoria. A superb start to a long adventure.
Over the next 68 days, we rode through an amazing country. The first part was along the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, through canyons, valleys, and mountain passes. We went through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, crossing the Mississippi into La Crosse, Wisconsin. We then traveled south along the Mississippi, crossing the river into Iowa and arriving in Muscatine, Iowa on August 23. In Iowa we passed by the site of Field of Dreams.
From there we crossed the Mississippi a third time and headed east. Mother nature smiled on us as we missed wildfires in Oregon and Idaho, but that smiling brought several days of 103-degree heat. From eastern Oregon to Montana, we saw endless fields of wheat, and in South Dakota and Iowa, nothing but corn and soybeans. We pushed east through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio with more corn, corn, and corn. We missed — by less than a quarter mile — a tornado in Illinois. After Ohio there was a short sprint through Wheeling, West Virginia and into Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. From Pittsburgh we took the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) into Cumberland, Maryland, and the C&O Canal Towpath to Williamsport, Maryland. From there it was to Gettysburg and onto Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The final leg was south to Delaware, finally arriving in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Thursday, September 16, to a small group of loyal supporters.
I couldn’t have completed the trip without the support of my wife, Barbara, my four children, Jennifer, Jamie, Jeff, and Katie, my sister-in-law Linda, my niece Christina, and good friends Chris and Cheryl, and biking buddies Tom and Jen, all of whom took turns driving the support van and cheering me on. Oh, I didn’t mention only one flat tire in South Dakota.
For those who like statistics: 3,841 miles, 68 days from start to finish, 60 days of cycling and 8 built-in rest days, 122,401 feet of climbing, and 273 hours of cycling.
My wife posted the following on September 17, 2021:
The pride I feel for my partner of 43 years is beyond measure. What my photos did not show was the suffering he went through on a daily basis to make his dream happen. Often the beautiful scenery we rode by went unnoticed because his energy and focus went into completing the necessary mileage that day. Despite the challenges of every single ride, Ham got his very stiff body out of bed the next morning and started again. The going was tough most of the time, yet he never gave up. For him this trip didn’t count unless the end was at the Atlantic. The bright spots for him were sharing this journey with our four children whose collaborations and planning made this crazy idea possible and whose constant motivation in their own particular style warmed his heart and helped him pedal on. Also having my sister, niece, and our best of friends join us brought their fresh perspective and smiling faces and allowed me to be on the road with Ham, knowing what I needed to say to keep the heat, the trucks, the hills, the wind, the rain, and the pain from standing in the way of him accomplishing his goal.
Hamilton Easter notes that “all is well here in Park City. Barb and I have isolated ourselves and have kept the virus at bay. One exception is that I have continued to volunteer at the local free health clinic. That made me eligible for the vaccine in December, with the second dose in January. Once I had both shots, I now volunteer at the local vaccination clinic once or twice a week as the medical supervisor. Fortunately, we have not had any serious reactions. We haven’t done much skiing this year since you have to have a reservation. Well, there will always be next year. Let’s hope we can all have a great 4th of July celebration.”