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Gene & David's Biographies
 
 
  Gene Hansel I need to explain why I have decided to attempt a cross country cycling trip.

First, I love to cycle. While living and working in Saudi Arabia my wife, Sue, and I took five cycling trips in France and Italy assisted by cycling touring companies. I discovered on these trips that tour cycling is an extremely exhilarating experience for a lot of reasons.

Second, soon after retiring, I read an article in the local paper about a young woman (in her 20’s) who had completed her second cross country cycling trip. I began to think then that I, a baby boomer, could also do this.
 

After a little research I discovered that hundreds of cyclists cross the U.S. each year so why not me. With Sue’s support and encouragement and months of planning, I am now ready to set off on this adventure. To my wife and life long partner, I say thank you for helping me have this dream and I’ll see you on the Virginia coast if not before. To my good friend David Gregory, thank you for agreeing to accompany me. You, as I, have made a substantial commitment of time, energy and funds.

There is an old expression: One day in the life of a tiger is worth a thousand days in the life of a sheep. For me one day cycling across the country is worth a thousand days in a car. My dream is not necessarily about arriving at the finish rather, it’s about the journey.

What is involved to cycle across America?

     The trip involves the excitement of riding daily into the unknown, meeting people, sharing stories      with them, and hopefully making friends with some.

     The trip involves battling daily the uncertainties of the road and of the elements.

     The trip involves taking wonderful bike rides day after day.

     The trip involves living outdoors day and night for extended periods of time.

     The trip involves seeing parts of America I have not seen while traveling at the optimum speed to      absorb the sights, sounds and smells of this vast country.

     The trip involves experiencing extremities of heat and cold, wet and dry, wind and calm; sometimes      all in the same day.

     The trip involves testing the limits of one’s physical and emotional stamina.

     The trip involves missing family and friends but staying in touch through cell phones and the internet.

     The trip involves experiencing the warmth and generosity of strangers across the country.

I hope that all of this comes to pass and comes across to you in our daily journal.

 

 
 
  David Gregory I was born and raised in a small town on the flatlands of central Illinois (Canton, near Peoria). I did a lot of cycling as a youth, pedaling to local lakes to fish and swim, enjoying the sense of freedom and adventure of those long summer days. Perhaps that's why I've migrated to Hawaii, where the tropical weather allows me to cycle, swim, and paint outdoors year-round (I am a self-employed artist doing watercolors, oils, and murals to sustain my independent lifestyle and travel addiction).

Please see some of my pre-trip artwork.
 

When Gene first suggested this trek I said "sure, why not...sounds like a great adventure", but when I sobered up I wasn't so sure. He recalls it a bit differently: "I remember when I suckered you into this trip. You arrived here for your first visit last year at 3:00 on Wednesday, April 27 (2005). On Thursday, we were sitting in my study and at 4:18 PM I proposed the question and you said, "are you crazy?". Then after another glass of wine you agreed. That's what I remember."

Actually, I've always enjoyed traveling, but I figured there were better ways to see the country than spending 2 months on a bicycle. However, the more I thought about it the more the prospect of slow poking across the continent appealed to me. It could be a time for personal reflection as I approached my sixtieth consecutive year on this planet, a way to get into better physical shape, an opportunity to see parts of this country that I'd missed in cars and jets, and a good opportunity to do more plein-air painting inspired by ever-changing surroundings.

The scoffing of (some) friends and family also helped motivate me, because the skepticism just prodded me to get serious. The perfect opportunity to test my resolve arose when another friend asked me to ride with a group in the annual Honolulu Century Ride (September 2005). They only planned to do the first 25 miles, then meet in Kailua for breakfast, which sounded do-able to me. I began "training" (3 weeks in advance) on my 10 year old mountain bike...riding 10 to 20 miles a day. The day of the Century Ride brought perfect weather...not too hot and very little wind. By the time we reached Kailua I still felt strong and decided to try and finish the entire 100 miles. About 10 hours after starting I crossed the finish line at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki...exhausted but exhilarated too, because I now had confidence to fully commit to our transamerica trip.

I should also mention that I would be less inclined to attempt this trip if I didn't have a good-natured comedian like Gene as a cycling companion. I first met him in 1994 when I was invited to Saudi Arabia by Saudi Aramco to teach several watercolor workshops for employees and their families. I was a pampered guest of Gene and his wife Sue for one week in their Ras Tanura home on the shores of the Persian Gulf. That was the beginning of a friendship that I have confidence will only grow stronger as we travel together this summer.

 
 
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