Thursday, May 10, 2012

Have you ever wanted to ride across America on a bike or a horse? Here's some inspiration ...

Wayne, left, Frosty and Howard upon arrival at Chris Brady's in Boise
Hi all,

I had the pleasure of meeting two extraordinary gentlemen last week who are in the midst of riding their bicycles across America. They're brothers -- Frosty Wooldridge and Howard Wooldridge. They're retracing the route that Howard followed in 2002 on his pinto paint horse from Savannah, Ga, to Newport, Ore. -- a distance of about 3,100 miles. Howard called it "Misty's Ride."

Howard Wooldridge on his horse Misty
Frosty says about 350-500 people ride bikes across America every year. But Howard is "definitely the only guy to ride both a horse and a bike across the country," he says.

I don't know about you, but I've always dreamed of riding a bike across America. I've just never taken the time. I could have done it after finishing college, but I was broke and wanted to get a newspaper job in the worst way and start a career in journalism. And I did. Now I'm up to my ears in work, kids and family. But someday, I really hope to do the ride. Frosty and Howard are my inspiration and maybe yours too. They're not average Americans by any stretch. These guys take life by the horns and go BIG!

Frosty taking a roadside break 
Frosty Wooldridge has pedaled 100,000 miles around the world and covered six continents. He's the author of many books, including How to Live a Life of Adventure. This is the 6th time he's riding his bike across America, mainly to accompany his brother Howard on his quest to fulfill an item on his bucket list, and talk to the media about his cause -- overpopulation.

Unchecked immigration is a huge problem, Frosty says. "We've got 46 million people living on food stamps in America right now. We must create 95,000 jobs every month to take care of our legal obligations to immigrants coming into America. I call it slow-moving national suicide."

Frosty doesn't believe our nation can possible take care of all of the legal immigrants, much less the illegal ones, plus he worries about the impact of overpopulation on our natural resources. But none of our nation's political leaders will touch the issue, he says, calling their lack of action "thundering silence."

Howard's cause is fighting the prohibition of illegal drugs. He's an ex-cop and a lobbyist on
Capital Hill who feels that it's a big waste of money to continue the war on drugs. His organization is called Citizens Opposing Prohibition or COPS. The T-shirt he rides in says "COPS SAY LEGALIZE POT. ASK ME WHY." His feeling is that the war on drugs/drug prohibition has been the "most destructive, most dysfunctional and most immoral policy since slavery and Jim Crow."

Working in Washington D.C. is tough these days, Howard says, because everyone in Congress is bought by special interests. The true needs of the nation are ignored while special interests run the show. "I come home from work every day covered with slime," he says. "I have to take a shower to try to get rid of it."  Howard says he's going to retire in the next year or so because he can't stand being around the corruption much longer. Kudos to him for working on the cause, nevertheless.

Now, back to their cross-country ride. They're riding on a pace of about 50-65 miles a day, depending on terrain to stay on track for a timetable of completing their ride in 9 weeks. They're operating on a budget of about $15/day. They're carrying about 60 pounds of gear, and they camp out on most nights.
Cycling across America takes "true grit" Frosty says 
A third man, Wayne, is riding with them. Wayne is 70 years old, Howard is 60 and Frosty is 65. They're all happy and fit as can be.

One reason that fewer than 500 people ride bikes across America each year is that it's hard! "You gotta have true grit," Frosty says. "It takes a lot of toughness. Nature will throw all kinds of s--- at you and you've got to deal with it -- wind, rain, sleet, hail, heat, you name it."

But the benefits are big. "Bicycle touring will show you that you're alive in a grand way," Frosty says. "It's a spiritual zen experience. It makes you peaceful, happy and purposeful. We all have a powerful exploratory urge if you open your mind to the possibilities. It's in our human DNA to explore."

Penny-Farthing bike. Very easy to sail over the handlebars and land on your head.
Frosty and Howard are inspired by other people's stories, too. Consider the guy who rode a penny-farthing bicycle from San Francisco to New York in 29 days! Those are the one speed bikes with a big front wheel. Thomas Stevens of England was the first person to ride around the world on a bike (a penny-farthing) in 1884-1886. "Think how primitive things were at that time -- that guy could have died in a thousand ways!" Frosty notes.

Cross-country riders often are inspired to make the big trip because of some kind of adversity that has struck their lives. "Divorce and death are a catalyst to doing extraordinary things," Howard says.

One of the biggest rewards of riding across the country is how friendly people will come to your aid time and time again. Howard has experienced it on his horseback ride and on a bicycle. Frosty has experienced it all over the world. "I've been invited into hundreds of homes," Frosty says. "People figure that you have to have character and integrity to ride a bike across the country."

"The world conspires to help you succeed," Howard says.

Howard recalls riding Misty into the Stage Stop about 10 miles east of Boise on I-84. He needed hay and grain for his horse in that dreadful piece of road between Mountain Home and Boise. A rancher just happened to pull into the service station with fresh hay and grain in the horse trailer. He wouldn't let Howard pay for any of it. The next day, another rancher helped Howard with a broken horse shoe, brought a horse trailer over to haul the horse to their ranch to fix the shoe and fed Howard a hearty meal. "People just come out of the woodwork to help you. It's uncanny."
Go see the country! 
If you want to track Howard and Frosty's adventure, Howard has a twitter handle @cannabiscop where he provides a daily update. You can follow along on Frosty's blog as well. They plan to complete their journey in Savannah, Ga., by the first week of July. Right now, they're on Day 19 in SLC, Utah.

I want to thank my friend Chris Brady for giving me an impromptu phone call, inquiring about the best route for the guys to take from Parma to Boise. That led to a dinner invite at Chris' house last week to meet these characters and learn about their life. Chris has known Howard since they were college students at Michigan State in 1970. They worked at Domino's Pizza together, and have stayed in touch ever since. Ha!

Have a great adventure guys! Wish I could be riding with you.

Two other things of note I wanted to mention this week:

  • Don't forget, next week is Boise Bike Week! Lots of events and activities planned. Try to park your car and ride your bike for work, errands, trips, etc. next week. 
  • This Saturday at Eagle Island State Park, there is a Fishing Paddle Craft Demo Day and Casting Tournament. Runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Over 25 different models of fishing craft that you can demo. Experts and sales reps will be on hand to answer questions about gear.
    - SS