Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

February 20, 2014

A 6,800-mile lesson in life

Cyclist's soul-searching adventure takes him coast to coast

For one Andover man admittedly lost in life, finding direction meant going on a bike ride — one that covered 6,800 miles across 24 states in 121 days.

Dave “Davey” Brian, a 22-year-old North Main Street resident, embarked on an adventure that has left him with a new attitude on life.

The decision to pedal from Boston to Seattle and then back east to Florida came at a time of uncertainty in Brian’s life.

“I wasn’t really doing stuff after high school. I was confused,” he said. “All my friends were going to college, and I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

Brian decided to realign his life, putting his studies in psychology and marketing at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown on hold for the chance to do something memorable while he was still young and had both the ability and energy, he said.

He started working seven days a week at two Dunkin’ Donuts locations to save up for the trip. Come last June, he had put away $5,000. He sunk $800 into a bike; grabbed a sleeping bag, tent and other supplies; and then set off from Boston on June 4.

Early on, he encountered some issues with his knees. But by the time he reached Chicago, they were gone. From there, he headed to Des Moines, took in the sights at Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, and then continued on to Seattle, almost entirely on pedal power.

Brian would cycle by day, then find shelter at night. He relied heavily on two social media websites he discovered on his travels — WarmShowers.org, described as “a site for reciprocal hospitality for touring bicyclists,” and CouchSurfing.org, with the motto, “Travel the world, explore your city and host new friends.”

“When I first started my trip, ... I was skeptical about it,” Brian said. “But it worked out great. I met so many people I still keep in contact with.”

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