MEEKER | “When you link em’ all together, I’ve ridden my bike across the U.S.” said Dr. Travis Anderson, healthcare provider at Pioneers Medical Center doing “broad spectrum family medicine.”
This year Dr. Anderson completed a four-part, cross country bike trip from the coast of Oregon to the coast of Virginia.
“It takes about, if you push it, a month and a half to two months to bike across the U.S., and I never had any one chunk of time that I could do that in,” he said, explaining how a working professional with four children found time to complete a trip spanning more than 4,000 miles.
Anderson completed the first of four sections of the trip from Colorado to Southern Illinois in 2008. It would be 12 years before the trip would start back up, thanks to life events like getting married, medical school, residency at St. Mary’s in Grand Junction, and eventually moving to Meeker four years ago. “My wife told me after we came here, ‘well, you can go look at other places, but we’re moving to Meeker,’ ” Anderson said.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Three years ago, after a 12-year hiatus, the bike tour resumed. This time Anderson headed west through Wyoming to Montana for part two of the journey. He recalled his decision to stop after nearly two weeks of riding, and being rained on in 40-degree weather “I did fine until I started going downhill, and then when you’re screaming along at 35 miles and hour, and it’s 40 degrees and you’re soaked to the bone, you get cold really fast,” he said.
“It’s not just seeing things, it’s feeling things, you’re feeling the sun, you’re feeling the wind, you smell things, some things good, some things bad, you get to see roadkill a lot,” he said, emphasizing that being exposed to the elements engages all the senses, which sets biking apart from driving.
Last summer Anderson picked up where he left off in Montana for part three, heading all the way to the coast of Oregon. “I ended up following the Lewis and Clark trail for a lot of that time and it took me to places I’d never been before,” he said. Following the “Trans America Bike Route” route by Missoula-based Adventure Cycling, Anderson’s path followed a lot of less-traveled roads. “It really is kind of a trip not just across America, but also across rural America,” he said, noting how a lot of towns reminded him of Meeker.
HIDDEN GEMS AND GOOD SAMARITANS
“I saw things that I never would have seen or didn’t even know about,” said Anderson, describing one night where he stayed in an “interstate park” between Kentucky/Virginia that locals called “the Grand Canyon of the south.” Other points of interest included a variety of hyper-local historical sites out west, Civil/Revolutionary war history out east, and one or two stressful situations that worked out in the end, thanks to help from people along the way.
“My wife hated this part,” said Anderson when recalling one day in eastern Oregon when a shredded bike tire left him temporarily stranded between towns. A nice guy by the name of “Billy” helped him, and even offered a place to stay. Another time in Illinois, a local event had booked out all the hotel rooms in the town where Anderson hoped to stay. At the suggestion of a local police officer, Anderson wound up sleeping in “a patch of grass” owned by the city. Fortunately, he said that was the only time he had to sleep outside.
COMPLETING THE TOUR
Dr. Anderson’s coast-to-coast bike tour resumed this April, picking up where he left off all those years ago. He rode for 16 days from Southern Illinois, through Kentucky and Virginia to the coast, stopping in Yorktown, the site of the final battle of the Revolutionary War. “You have to go down and dip your tire in the ocean, both sides, so that your bike can be in both oceans, so I did that,” said Anderson.
All totalled, Dr. Anderson spent about 50 days on his bike to complete the trip. While he’s done for now, he’s considering some future trips, though not too seriously yet. He hopes his example can help encourage others to start biking. “If I could encourage people to do that, I would love that, just more people out on their bikes, I think we’d be a lot healthier and better off if that were the case,” said Anderson.
By LUCAS TURNER | email@example.com