Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a cross-country road trip? For Rick Barder, Bus Ad ’66, the vision included a bicycle and a lot of sweat.
Last summer Barder biked 4,009 miles, from Bellingham, Wash., to Yorktown, Va., in just 69 days. His first love is running, but once he reached a certain age, he realized that the two-wheeled life was kinder to his knees.
He planned to make the trek with college chum Dr. Phillip Hinton, Arts ’66, but because of scheduling conflicts Hinton could only join him for the final 400 miles.
So Barder was often alone with the road and his thoughts. “It was a very reflective time,” he says. “It was like a spiritual experience, similar to what a monk would go through on a daily basis.”
The trip had its share of drama. Reckless drivers ran him off the road several times. He was chased by a buffalo and got a little too close to a grizzly bear.
He reveled in the changing landscapes, especially the Teton Mountains. “Those just take your breath away,” he says. “And on a bike, you can stop anytime and look at them. … it’s not like in a car.”
He’s not retiring his 10-speed yet. He and his wife recently biked in Mallorca, Spain, and next he wants to circumnavigate Lake Superior.
“On a bike you’re so close to nature, you just want to keep doing it,” he says. “It gets in your blood.”