Editor's note - What is a grown man doing riding a tricycle? ... across the United States, no less.
That is the question Dan Price, 45, of Joseph answers in the following essay recapping his trip across from Joseph to Key West, Florida on a 33-pound, 27-speed "WizWheelz" tricycle.
Price returned to Joseph on Feb. 13 after completing the cross-country tour which began on Nov. 4.
"It's the most fun I've had since I was a little kid," he said of the trip, dubbed, "The Great American Trike Tour," which is documented on the trike manufacture's Web site, located at www.wizwheelz.com.
Price pedaled eight hours a day and covered 50 to 60 miles on the 4,500-mile tour. He pedaled from Oregon to San Diego, across Texas and through New Orleans, then through western Florida on his way to Key West. He carried a compact tent, camped out most of the time, and ate food that he bought at grocery stores along the way.
During the course of his tour Price was featured featured on several television programs, including on CNN, and in more than 20 newspapers. His goals included promoting the benefits of pedal power and gas-free travel.
"I haven't bought any gas at all on this trip, at a time when the country is talking about going to war over oil," Price told the Associated Press at the end of his trip, outside Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, one of author Ernest Hemingway's hangouts.
For the past 12 years Price has extensively studied and written about the concepts of simplicity, paring down his possessions and lifestyle in order to lead an environmentally responsible way of life. He has lived in tepees, huts, tents and an underground kiva.
Price originally planned to make an 8,500-mile trip ending in Oregon in July, but traffic along the way, especially in Florida, deterred his desire to continue.
"One bicyclist a day gets killed in Florida," he said, describing the Sunshine State as "a continuous strip mall for hundreds of miles."
Price said that of all the placed he saw the past three months, the Wallowa Valley is by far the most beautiful.
"I sure hope we don't screw it up with overdevelopment," he said.
The 15 most frequently asked questions of someone who just rode a trike across the USABy Dan Price
1. WHY DID YOU DO IT? After a 10-year search, I finally located a trike company that would give me one of their trikes if I rode a long distance to promote it. I also wanted to see if a person could still do such a ride in the midst of all the terrorism scares. And I wanted to see if I could convince people to drive less and pedal more.
2. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE? Three-and-a-half months of pedaling eight hours a day.
3. HOW MANY MILES? Roughly 4,500. The trike did not have an odometer.
4. WERE YOU EVER SCARED? Only when automobiles almost hit me six different times and when the highway lost its shoulder for me to ride on and I had to ride WITH the cars IN their lane!
5. DIDN'T YOU GET LONELY? Mostly not, but of course I missed family, friends, Wallowa County, and my quiet studio.
6. DIDN'T YOU GET RAINED ON? Only about four days were rainy. Mostly I had to deal with subfreezing temperatures from San Diego to New Orleans. Was surprised to be crossing a 4,500 foot pass east of San Diego. Mostly my feet and hands froze while my body was sweating for many, many miles.
7. WAS IT DANGEROUS? DID ANYONE BOTHER YOU? Mostly I camped out on the side of roads and never had anyone give me trouble. Last summer a teenage driver threw a cola all over me from a speeding pickup as I was riding around the lake here in Wallowa County. Nothing like that happened on the entire crossing.
8. WHAT DID YOU EAT? I would joke with people while raising a jar of peanut butter out of the bike pack, saying it was my fuel cell. Ate lots of peanut butter sandwiches, cheese and crackers, fruit, vegetables and vitamins. Also ate lots of chocolate, my only vice! And what's cool about long-distance bicycling is you burn tons of calories, so you can eat most anything and food tastes really good. I lost about 10 pounds on this ride.
9. DID YOUR LEGS GET SORE? My knees are not the strongest and they hurt a lot the first month. At night, I would rub Tiger Balm on them. The West Coast was very mountainous and I spent whole days in low gear grinding up them, sometimes pushing on my knees to help lessen the load.
10. WHAT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED? Tailwinds! Had about three days of 30-40 mph tailwinds that sent me down the road for 100-mile days. I also very much enjoyed the simplicity of living for months in a minimalist manner. No mail, no hassles, just you, the pedaling, some food and a safe place to sleep.
11. WHAT WAS THE WORST THING THAT HAPPENED? Woke up on New Year's Day in a very remote Southern New Mexico area to discover a hole about the size of a nickel in my rear tire! Limped along for about 30 miles on electrical tape wrappings until finding a kid who sold me his BMX tire in a tiny town. Also having three cops discover my camp spots and shine their big light on me in the middle of the night, telling me to move or else!
12. DID YOU EVER WANT TO JUST QUIT? The early morning frosts were really wearing me down and one morning while rolling up my equipment in 25 degree weather in a dangerous border area, I broke a back molar and just sat in the sand and cried. That was about the hardest time.
13. DID YOU MEET FRIENDLY PEOPLE? I always waved at everybody and they all smiled, obviously delighted at seeing such an unusual bicycle. Several times people took me out to dinner (trying to fatten me up!) and I had lots of conversations with some wonderful folks along the way.
14. DID YOU CONVINCE ANYONE TO RIDE BIKES MORE? I really doubt it. It would take me an entire day of hard pedaling to go 60 miles. You can sit back and enjoy that distance in a car in one hour. Unfortunately, the entire country's infrastructure has been build for cars and in many cases for cars only, meaning no shoulder whatsoever for bicyclists. Some of the best experiences were when I would find a bike path or rails-to-trails route and disengage from the dreaded auto-filled roads.
15. WHAT'S YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE? This next fall I'd like to paddle a kayak the length of the Snake River from Jackson Lake, Wyo., to Lewiston, Idaho.
For a full accounting of Dan's ride you can order his trip journal from Moonlight Chronicles, PO Box 109, Joseph, OR 97846 for $5 and/or see www.wizwheelz.com for photos and other fun stuff about the trip.