Top of the Morning, Aug. 3, 2014
Kevin Elliott runs a counseling business in Champaign. But the way I see it, he’s the one who might benefit from a round of therapy.
“I think this is a wonderful thing for my mental health,” he assured me by phone somewhere along the Katy Trail in Missouri.
“This” is spending his sabbatical pedaling across the U.S. on a garage-sale bike. He’s more than 2,100 miles into a 3,400-mile excursion that started July 7 in San Francisco.
“Not even sore,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
It helps that the 58-year-old is to cycling what Greyhound is to busing. Already he has biked from Urbana to Austin, Texas, and from Denver to Urbana. He’s gone all Schwinn in Europe and Asia, too. But the current adventure is breaking new ground.
“I had never climbed a mountain range before,” said Elliott, who did just that near Flagstaff, Ariz. “That was cool and exceedingly beautiful.”
He rides from sunrise to 5 p.m. and sleeps in hotels. He ditched the iPod early on for “the sounds of the road: birds chirping, trains, animals.” He keeps in touch with family by cellphone and Facebook, where he is documenting his trip. Besides flat tires and a rough patch in the Mohave Desert, his ride has been smooth.
“The truckers have been amazing ... friendly honks,” he said. “In Albuquerque is the only time I’ve been honked at to get out of the way.”
Elliott soon will pit in C-U for a week before continuing on to New York City, where his wife will join him at the finish line. As for an encore, the part-time musician said he’d like to “tour by bicycle” or head overseas again. “Maybe another continent.”
But than can wait. “Nothing for awhile that will keep me away from my family,” he said.