"Because in the end you won't remember the time you spent working in the office, or mowing your lawn. Climb that God damn mountain!" - Jack Kerouac
The above quote was uttered by a rather famous writer/contributor to the "Beat Generation." His quote nails it on the head. I don't believe we should let work define who we are. To me the 4 most important things in life are family, faith, friends, and last but not least - work. That doesn't mean I haven't worked hard, or don't believe in hard work. Simply put I believe there is much more to life than work. We should work to live, not live to work. Life, as we all come to realize one day, is ever so fleeting. We are reminded on an almost daily basis just how fragile life really is. Case in point, the bicyclist who gets killed by that "damn speeding Greyhound bus." There are no guarantees that we'll be alive at day's end, or tomorrow. None of us are indispensable. If we die tomorrow someone will take our place, and life as we know it on our beautiful planet, Earth, will go on uninterrupted as it has for eons.
My Atlantic Coast ride was just one more "mountain" I wanted to climb. Time never stops, the clock is always ticking, and there's so much I'd still like to do during my lifetime. Challenges are an integral part of life, and they're good for us in both a mental and physical sense. I know there are a number of folks out there who think I'm crazy for riding a bicycle 2,400 miles, and that's OK. They may be right. But my ride met and fulfilled a number of personal needs/challenges, which include but are not necessarily limited to, 1) Staying focused and disciplined each day, 2) Staying in shape physically, 3) Staying in shape mentally, 4) Meeting new people, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends, 5) Volunteering my time and effort (in my case to raise money for worthy causes, 6) Being outdoors, and taking in all Mother Nature has to offer, 7) Having fun and staying young, and 8) Experiencing life via a unique venue...on a bicycle, one of the simplest modes of transportation.
People always ask me to tell them about my bicycle rides. Frankly, I can never find the words to describe them. That's why I always use the word "magical" to summarize them, because they are. You have to experience it firsthand, to truly understand the incredible sense of pure freedom, wellness, and goodness that one feels when riding on a long bicycle trip. I've always believed that everyone we meet in life, whether for 5 minutes or for 50 years, impacts our lives in some way and in varying degrees - be it positive or negative. During my ride all the chance encounters I had with people, from all walks of life, whether I was on my bike or off were positive, memorable, refreshing, and fun. The people I met along the way made me happy, and reaffirmed my belief that the vast majority of Americans are genuinely good, decent, and caring folks.
The hardest part of the journey is the last few days, when you know your magical bicycle trip is coming to an end. On one hand there's a feeling of elation, that you've accomplished what you set out to do. On the other hand there's a sense of trepidation knowing you're heading back to the real world - no longer on a bicycle. It's a huge change! You have to decompress, and avoid the temptation to jump right back into the thick of things you were doing before you set out on your journey. Multi-tasking has to take a backseat, for a couple of weeks at a minimum. So I do the "honey-do's" on my list, unpack my trailer (over a period of multiple days), and wait for my bike which should show up soon. Without my bike it's as if I'm missing a limb...have patience Bob!
A lot of folks have asked whether I plan to do another long bike trip. Actually, right now I'm not sure. When the bug strikes me again to hit the road, I'll think about it and possibly make some preliminary plans. One thing I want to do for sure though is to write a book. Yes, you heard me right, "I want to write a book!" I have two journals chock full of memories, interesting people I met along the way, things I did or saw, and my thoughts on the similarities of life's journey and a long distance bicycle journey.
If you've never taken an overnight bike trip, strap on a backpack with your essential gear, and give it a try. I think you'll find it really is a fun escape from the pace of the hectic world we live in. Pick a destination that interests you, and which is manageable distance-wise. Stay overnight (hotel or tent), and return home the next day. I bet you'll do it again, and with time the one night trips will turn into weeklong trips. Warning: Bicycle travel is addictive! However, it's not hazardous to your health, unless of course you don't follow the rules of road biking and don't wear a helmet - always wear a helmet!
I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the host of people who supported me, and helped to ensure that my journey was indeed a magical one. The list is a long one and not in any specific order. My hope is that I recognize all of you who were there for me in one way or another. So here it goes: My most important thank you is to my wife, Melanie, who supported my ride from the very beginning...I love you! Thank you also to Susanne and Bob Wallace (who put up with me for 2 weeks...that's a tough assignment), Re Harkin, Debbie and Jim McCarthy, Priscilla Shumway and Jack Hurley, Jill and Mark Hettermann, Rich Hodsdon, Robin and Sanford Boisseau, the William and Mary Charleston, S.C. Alumni who joined me for a fun night at Jack Hurley's Mex 1 Cantina restaurant, Frieda and Pete Allen, Betty and Kevin Rogers, Ibrahim Dia (my cycling partner extraordinaire for 3 days), Judy and Bill Jones (my sister and brother-in-law who transported my trailer for 3 days), Leslie and Brian Moody, the entire Moody family (thanks for Easter dinner), my close Moorestown friends (who joined me at Otts Tavern for food and a libation or two), Dave Hoyer (who rode with me from Washington's Crossing, PA to Frenchtown, NJ), Judy and David Coblentz, Prudence and Peter Kraft, my 3 children and their significant others, my Boise friends, and everyone who somewhere along the way took the time to offer me a word of encouragement, e-mailed or texted me, bought me a beer or a meal, invited me to stay in their home, shared a conversation or story with me, asked me questions, answered my questions, took the time to listen to me, and helped or offered me assistance while on the road. And last, but of course not least, my guardian angels (Mildred H. and George S. Stohner, John Perkins, Joe Pilch, Ed Helies, Dan Bither, and Cindy Herron) who watched over me and kept me out of harm's way for the ride's duration...I thank you!
As Always, Bob (since 1951)
Keep on truckin'...don't let life pass you by!
Now that I’ve entered the next phase of life, retirement, it’s time to take another bicycle trip. Beginning on March 30, 2014, I’ll be cycling the Atlantic Coast Route from Boca Raton, FL to Bar Harbor, ME. This route will be substantially flatter than my 2009 cross-country ride. However, I’m sure I'll encounter much more vehicular traffic, and maybe even a little road rage. That’s OK I'll simply have to be more cautious while on the bike.
Once again I’m riding to raise memorial funds for both college scholarships and the Idaho Education Association’s Children’s Fund. This time to honor the memory of five friends: John Perkins, Joe Pilch, Ed Helies, Dan Bither, and Cindy Herron. Let me start out by telling you a bit about each of these individuals, all of whom I consider myself privileged to have known:
All five of the above individuals shared exemplary character traits:
The world would indeed be a better place to live if everyone possessed the same character traits as John, Joe, Ed, Dan, and Cindy. I ask that you consider making a contribution to their respective memorial funds. I know John, Joe, Ed, Dan, and Cindy would thank you for doing so, and will smile down upon you, just as they will me, when I ride the Atlantic Coast Route in 2014.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my website, I really do appreciate your interest. And please visit it again beginning March 30, 2014 for daily updates about happenings along the way. Any spelling errors should be attributed to my wife Melanie - my better half of course - not me. And remember, if you’re in your vehicle and see an old, bearded, bespectacled fart riding a black Trek 520 road bike with a black and yellow Burley Nomad trailer, do me a favor…move over and give me some damn room! You can view the Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route by going to www.adventurecycling.org and clicking on “U.S Bike Routes." I can't wait to get back on the road again. See you in Bar Harbor…
Bob (since 1951)
* I wish to acknowledge and thank the following: Muzzie Braun “The Kitchen”, John Prine (Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.) “Please Don’t Bury Me”, Grateful Dead (Ice Nine Publishing, Inc.) “Box of Rain”, and “Truckin’, Charlie Parr “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down”, Hecktor Pecktor "Common Ground", Javier Barerra (my webmaster extraordinaire), my wife Melanie (for putting up with me over the past 35 years), George's Bicycles of Boise, and my immediate family for their support. I also want to thank the Boise State Construction Management Program, the W&M HEYFARL Endowment Fund, and the Boise School District (Frank Church High School) for granting me permission to use their respective logos on my bike jerseys. Last but not least, I’d like to thank my "guardian angels" John Perkins, Joe Pilch, Ed Helies, Dan Bither, Cindy Herron, and of course my parents, Mildred and George Stohner, for providing me with the inspiration to undertake another magical bicycle adventure. “What a long strange trip it’s been” and then some. Who knows what other adventures the future may hold? Parachuting anyone?
I'm also riding to raise college scholarships again in memory of my mother and father, Mildred and George Stohner. To honor our parents we have established college scholarship funds at both Moorestown High School and The College of William and Mary. All contributions made to these scholarship funds are tax deductible.
To make a contribution to my mother's scholarship fund at Moorestown High School, please make your check payable to the Moorestown Education Foundation, and mail it to the address shown below. Be sure to note either in your correspondence, or in the memo section of your check, that the contribution is to be deposited in the "Mildred H. Stohner Memorial Scholarship Fund":
Moorestown Education Foundation
803 Stanwick Road
Moorestown, NJ 08057
To make a contribution to my father's scholarship fund at William and Mary you can either: 1) send a check payable to "The College of W&M Foundation", noting on the memo section of your check "Allocation #2111" and mail it along with the attached form below, or 2) go to the link www.wm.edu to make a contribution on the College's secure website. Should you choose option #2 please follow the directions below:
If none of the above causes interests you, please consider making a contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarrior.org . Your contribution assists wounded military service men and women returning from combat overseas, as well as their families. All contributions to the Wounded Warriors Project are tax deductible.
When making a contribution to any of the above causes please note that your contribution is a result of the StonesAcrossAmerica fundraiser. Whether or not you make a contribution, a simple word of encouragement such as, "You must be out of your &#%*^@g mind!" will suffice to motivate and propel my 62 year old body up the Atlantic Coast to Bar Harbor. The fact that you're taking the time to read my website is appreciated, and encouraging in and of itself. I, my mother, my father, my entire family, deserving college bound Moorestown High School seniors, future William and Mary students, and combat veterans and their families thank you for your generous support!
Moorestown High School, Class of 1969
College of William and Mary, Class of 1973