Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 20, 2014

A 6,800-mile lesson in life

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


After taking a month off to rest and explore, Brian made a one-day beeline from Portland to San Francisco, covering 200 miles in 16 hours, his longest one-day trek of the entire trip. By the end of it, he was shaking and had a pounding headache to show for the mistreatment. And his knee troubles returned.

The knee issues prompted him to forego a rougher part of the ride, opting instead for a 23-hour bus trip from San Francisco to Texas in early-September.

From there, he got back on the bike and spent the next almost two months cycling east through New Orleans and into Florida. He arrived in St. Augustine, dipping his front tire in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 30.

There were rough patches along the way, he said. Warm showers and couches to crash on weren’t always easy to come by. At times, he’d set up his tent and spend the night at a campsite or, on some instances, rough it entirely, he said. Nutrition also became a challenge.

“By the end of my trip, I really lowered my health standards because I was low on money,” he said, explaining how he would stop at dollar stores in Louisiana and Florida and buy boxes of Pop-Tarts for $2 to keep himself going.

“It was so bad,” he said, laughing.

Brian returned east in late fall with no money, but filled with a sense of accomplishment. He has settled in Andover, where he works at the front desk at Planet Fitness in Shawsheen Plaza. He plans on going back to school at some point, but for now, he said he enjoys working at the gym surrounded by people like himself who are interested in fitness.

His main takeaway from the trip is the hospitality he experienced from coast to coast.

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