than Spinning Wheels
New grad bikes America for Alzheimers
bright-eyed college graduates join the Peace Corps; others don business
suits and enter the workforce with aplomb; and then there are those
who bum around Burlington, clinging to the apron strings of alma mater
just a bit longer. But Andy Brown 03 chose a post-college path
a bit less traveled.
All of sudden it hit me. I was going to graduate in May,
Brown says. I remember thinking, Ive got to do something
with my life. So, he set out about doing just that from
the seat of a bicycle.
At the end of last June, Brown embarked on a 69-day transcontinental
bike ride. His tour, Coast to Coast: A Ride to Remember,
was much more than an extended vacation before settling down to more
serious things. Brown rode in honor of his grandmother, who suffers
from Alzheimers, and along the way raised more than $3,000 for
research to fight the disease.
The former computer science majors trek began in Portland, Maine.
Spanning northern New England brought him back up to Burlington for
a stop before pointing his handlebars toward his hometown on the Lake
Ontario shore of New York. From there, Brown swung below the Great Lakes,
taking a line through states such as Missouri, Colorado, and Utah before
he stopped pedaling in San Francisco.
But such a journey cant be fully finished without a touch of ceremony.
I dipped my back tire in the Atlantic Ocean and my front tire
in the Pacific, Brown says with a laugh.
biked through 14 states in all and was left with some vivid and distinct
memories of each. I really appreciated a sense of what America
is, its diversity and beauty. I remember passing by so many cows in
Oklahoma. They would all turn and thoughtfully stare at me. And in southern
Utah, I felt like I was on another planet; it was the most surreal place
I have ever seen.
Brown says the Rocky Mountains were the hardest part of the journey,
but that the whole experience biking 100 miles a day carrying
50 extra pounds on his rig got him in the best shape of his life.
Compared to the riding, the fundraising was the easy part. Brown teamed
up with the Alzheimers Association of Vermont and New Hampshire,
assuring that all donations to the ride went directly into research.
Prepped for the challenges of the real world by coping with
realities such as four solid days of rain and nothing to do but pedal
or survival on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Brown has set up
housekeeping in Utah where he hopes to develop an Internet business.
But his passion for cycling is still in gear and his thoughts return
to the road often. He puts it simply Theres something
to be said for seeing the world at 15 miles per hour.
Carly Baldwin 05