COMMUNITY: A bike ride to remember - hopefully

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By Clark Anderson, community contributor

Sixty years of age is a milestone that makes one start to contemplate the reality that the prime of your life will soon be over, if it isn’t already.

I turn 61 in March. If I’m going to do something out of the ordinary, I had better not delay.

That is the basis for planning something that is “out of the ordinary” — a 1,500-mile bike tour.

My original plan was to fly to Kalispell, Mont., and ride along the state highway north of the Missouri River until Bismarck, then find the less traveled roads back to northeast Iowa, southwest Wisconsin.

The distance would amount to around 1,500 miles through scenic and sparsely populated areas.

But after thinking about it for a while, I reasoned that since my wife and I drive to visit our daughter in Nashville every spring, why not just find a route from Nashville back home that would be of comparable distance and save the airfare and time that a Montana flight would require.

So, I arbitrarily established a route that will take me southwest out of Nashville as far as Tupelo, Miss., then west across Mississippi and most of Arkansas before turning north for home.

My home is, you might say, in two places — Platteville, Wis., is where I go on the weekends. I spent 25 years there practicing veterinary medicine in a dairy practice. My wife and I own a farmette in rural Platteville.

During the week, I stay in Postville, where I am employed by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service. I am granted enough vacation time to make a three-week block for this adventure a possibility. The earlier years of employment didn’t offer that much time off.

My health is good. I have been a runner, when time permitted, for the past 30 years and competing, on the average, once a year in road races ranging from 4K to 21K. The largest races were Madison Crazy Legs with 20,000-plus participants and the Music City Half Marathon. My finish times were in the top five percent for my age group.

My main sport in high school was wrestling. I wrestled in college, also, at Waldorf.

I asked one friend to accompany me on this planned trip, but he was unable to join me. I won’t ask anyone else because, quite frankly, most people think it is a crazy idea.

Why am I planning this? For the adventure and for something to be able to tell my grandchildren. Wouldn’t the RAGBRAI qualify? That is quite an experience, as well. However, this is about three times as far without all the support of fellow riders and without opportunity to get refreshments every mile or two.

All of the planning is worth nothing if I don’t succeed in completing the trip. I have many questions in my own mind. Will I have trained enough? Will I encounter severe weather that will make bike travel impossible for a whole day or more than one day? Is the fact that several of the states I will be in are rated among the 10-worst for crime rate of concern to me? Will I get injured or hit by a car?

I hope to complete this journey in good health and have daily highlights to journal and hope to find there is beauty and goodness wherever you go across the good old USA.

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