While many people need four wheels to travel across America, former men’s cross-country runner Brian Keefe ’11 did it with two.
From June 4 to Sept. 1, Keefe rode his mountain bike on a planned route, taking him roughly 6,150 miles from Boston, Mass. to Florence, Ore.
Staff Writer Emily Helwig talked with Keefe about his trip.
Emily Helwig: How did you get this idea to ride a bike across the country?
Brian Keefe: I met a lot of people through my time at Ithaca that had done similar things. My initial plans for what to do after college always really focused around kind of an unconventional, just-get-out-and-go-exploring attitude and go see a lot of different stuff and see national parks around the country. I talked to a lot of people who had rode their bikes across the country, so that’s kind of how I got the initial idea to not drive a car, not take an airplane, but ride a bike.
EH: Did you have to do any training to prepare for the ride?
BK: Actually, I was always a runner, so I had the endurance aspect down. I ran two seasons of cross-country at Ithaca, and did some local races around the area. I did a little recreational mountain biking on the weekends in Ithaca, and that was actually the bike that I used for this trip. I got lucky because I didn’t get hurt or anything. I just kind of took it a little slower in the beginning to get my legs conditioned to all the pedaling. As I felt better and more accustomed to just getting up every day and riding, I would pick up the mileage, and it worked pretty well.
EH: Where was your favorite place that you stopped?
BK: Zion National Park. It is a really amazing place because it just blows you away. You could do any hike and just stop in the middle of the hike and stare out into this canyon, and you could look for hours and never get bored. It’s just awe-inspiring. It’s this vast incredible thing, and I had never seen anything like that before, so it was really cool.
EH: What did you hope to get out of this ride?
BK: Every single person I talked to on this entire trip asked me this question, and I still don’t have a good answer for it. This was really like my moment of freedom, my moment of enjoyment between my four years in Ithaca going to school and what’s coming next. I spent three days thinking about this question because a lot of people were asking me it, and I guess the one thing that I really wanted to prove to myself was that I could commit to something. Because if you can commit to biking more than 6,000 miles across the country, you can accomplish pretty much anything.
EH: What are your plans now that you’re back on the East Coast?
BK: I’m moving to Boston, and I have a job that I’ll be getting in financial services. I actually got the job through my friend Jason who graduated a year before I did, and he put me in touch with his boss, so I was able to secure this job through someone that graduated from Ithaca College.
EH: Now that the trip is finished do you think it was worth it?
BK: Of course it was worth it. This was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life. I got to do what I love for three months straight without any obligations or any care in the world. I got up every day and rode a bicycle, and I met incredible people and saw incredible stuff while I was doing that. I wouldn’t trade a second of that for the world.
Check out Keefe’s trip blog at openmiles.blogspot.com for more photographs and tales.