By Sarah Pridgeon
Frank Sanders of Above All Guides and the Devils Tower Lodge Bed & Breakfast has already reached Texas on his charity bike ride across the nation.
“Tonight finds me in Silver City, New Mexico, and it looks like in two days I’ll make El Paso and start into the vastness of Texas,” he said last week.
“The trip started on Saturday, December 28 in Ocean Beach, California; I got going about noon. I’ve been pedaling for 14 straight days since then, with today as a rest day, and have covered around 700 miles.”
Sanders embarked on his coast-to-coast adventure for two reasons: to raise money for his chosen charities and to motivate others to follow their own dreams. The route was inspired by a journey he undertook last year with his partner, Tanya, for 1250 miles from Texas to Florida.
This time, he is keeping to the back roads and undertaking a bigger challenge by riding during the depths of winter. He will be traveling from San Diego, California all the way to St. Augustine, Florida.
“It has been a great adventure, not just with the pedaling but the folks who are there to meet along the way,” he says.
“Depending on wind, pavement quality and elevation change, I cover between 40 and 75 miles per day. The solitude of the California and Arizona deserts was excellent and the long, steep climbs of the Arizona and New Mexico mountains, with elevations up to 8000 feet, have been very challenging and rewarding.”
By the weekend, Sanders had passed El Paso, but avoided the big city traffic by staying out of town. He then headed from Fort Thornton to Van Horn, Texas on much more open, quiet roads.
Sanders has not set himself a specific route, waking up each morning to figure out where he will go next and allowing the road itself to guide his path. He stays in whatever accommodations he passes along the way, even sleeping for one night in a fire station.
The ongoing story of the ride, he says, is of passing through endless small towns with empty or closed businesses due to the economic problems across the nation. As far as he has seen, businesses and business people in small town America seem to be vanishing.
“Any way that one looks at it, it just gives me pride to reflect on the success, prosperity and work ethic of Wyoming towns like Sundance, Moorcroft and Hulett,” he nods.
Sanders has set up several ways through which interested members of the community can follow his journey. He will continue to update his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/frank.bigwally.sanders throughout the trip and can be found on Twitter at @BigwallyFrank.
If you would like to donate to the two causes to which the trip is dedicated, Wounded Warriors and the Second Chance Ministry, visit Sanders’ website at www.devilstowerlodge.com. A PayPal link can be found on the front page through which donations of any size can be made.