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Edited by Leah Silvieus, '07 >< Adapted from a story by Dani King, '10, that appeared in the Sept. 26, 2006, issue of The Whitworthian

Days after Brent Hendricks, '06, graduated from Whitworth with a degree in theology, he embarked on a bike tour that spanned the United States, from the Washington coast to New Jersey, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. During the brief moments he wasn't pedaling, refueling on gas-station snacks, or reading one of the 13 books he finished during the trip, Hendricks chronicled his adventures in an online journal. After completing the 5,423 mile cross-country trek, Hendricks returned to Spokane a changed person.

Following are excerpts from Hendricks' journal and a sampling of the lessons learned during his three months traveling America's highways and byways.

DAY ONE – May 30

Accompanied by family, I did the cliché dipping of the rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean and took a bunch of pictures at the Peace Arch in Blaine.
DAY 10 – June 8

It turned out that much of the road had no shoulder at all, and if it did, it was max two feet. Combine this with 60 mph traffic comprised of mostly logging trucks and RVs, and you've got yourself a scary day – especially on windy mountain roads.
DAY 26 – June 24
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that yesterday I crossed the 1/4 point of my trip. Hooray!
DAY 31 – June 29
Toward the end of the park [Yellowstone National], I thought I was being sprayed with sand by the passing traffic. I looked down to see my legs and shirt were black – was I being sprayed with tar? No – just riding through clouds of mosquitoes.
DAY 34 – July 2
Meeting other bikers is the most energizing and refreshing experience I can have ... I crossed paths with about 15 or 16 other bike tourists today – many of them (though spread out) were traveling in a big group. One of them was legally blind. Apparently, all he could see was the shadow of the white line on the road.
DAY 51 – July 19
Milestones today: new state (Missouri), new map, crossed the 3,000-mile mark. Insert sweet Ellis Paul song here ... "Three thousand miles ... I've come a long, long way ...."
DAY 56 – July 24
Think about it ... all I need is a 7' x 4' spot on a floor in any building, or a 10' x 10' patch of grass ... I was riding through town and looking at the hundreds of buildings all around me, and all the lawns in front of them. Why is it that it's such a big deal to give someone a spot to sleep on that it took me seven hours before I could go to sleep? It really shouldn't be this hard ... But then again, this is my house and my lawn and God forbid (actually, He commands) that I open my door to someone. I don't want to be judgmental, because until this trip I was exactly the same way, and will surely struggle with it for a very long time. I think 95 percent of us don't even truly think in terms of hospitality or sharing.
DAY 61 – July 29
I finally rolled into Muscatine [Iowa] at about 7 in the evening and collapsed against a building, completely exhausted. There were bikes everywhere, though. The whole town was pretty much a huge party for bikers. Think of Sturgis, only replace the leather with spandex.
DAY 74 – Aug. 11
[A trucker's] directions took me through three major on-ramp interchanges, then put me onto a very busy six-lane highway with a large concrete wall instead of a shoulder – it didn't even have a white line. There were also no places to get off – I was stuck riding on what is comparable to I-5 in Seattle. It was by far the scariest time of this trip, and was perhaps the first time in my life that I have been genuinely in fear of being killed.
DAY 84 – Aug. 21
I hit the 5,000-mile mark right as I came into view of the beach, and I dipped my front wheel in the Atlantic at 5,001 miles. I then sat in the sand on the beach and drank my first champagne ever while smoking my first cigar ever. I thought it would be an incredible experience to finally reach the Atlantic, but I'm so tired that it wasn't a great life-changing experience. I've done it, though. I've finally made it.

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