BOBBY BRADY AND THANE WHITCELL TO TACKLE THE TRANSAM

Bobby Brady, a member of the Thunder Bay Trails Association, will be setting out on a bicycle tour. Bobby is leaving Bobby & ThaneMonday morning April 29th, 2013. He and his friend Thane are two friends that will take the ride of a lifetime on the TransAm East to West. As Bobby and Thane go on their journey, we will post updates here for you to enjoy.

Everyone at Thunder Bay Trails Association, Alpena, MI and the surrounding area wish the both of you nothing but the best. Enjoy your journey along life’s highways. We look forward to when you return home to share with us what you have experienced.

Introduction: Bobby

Why am I doing this? Mid life crisis?Ego?Crazy? No I love my bicycle and I love America. This trip is my Everest. It is a dream going back almost 10 years.

It began to intensify back in 2005 when my wife and I were out in the Tetons and I saw these people with loaded tour bikes riding through Teton National Park. At that moment the hook was set. I knew that I would be called to do a long distance tour. Which and where I did not know at the time.

About 12 years ago one of my cycling friends invited me on a five day fully supported bike trip from Lansing to Mackinaw MI. I have been doing that ride every year since but began to wonder what it would be like to carry my own gear and for much longer than one week. So fast forward to 2013….

After much research and two purchased books and hours spent reading journals on crazyguyonabike.com I am about to embark on the ride of a lifetime with my ride partner and very dear friend Thane Whitscell.

In 1993 I had slipped into the darkest period of my life in the form of a depression that threatened to take my life. One day while looking out the window and seeing some bike riders go by I began to think of an old Western Flyer that I knew was buried somewhere in a barn at my brothers house. I dug her out brown rusted rims and all and took her to my little apartment. With steel wool in hand and a little TLC I brought her back to life and the road.

Now at this point I was not riding for love of sport or hobby it was for pure survival. Often times daybreak would find me still pedaling the bike paths and back streets of our little town in North East Lower Michigan. My mind would just not let me sleep.

My children Matt and BJ who were teens at the time would often tease me about my Western Flyer and tell me I should get a Trek like all their friends had. I would laugh and say I will never pay $350.00 for a bicycle. Well I won’t even get into what I have invested in bikes now.

I started mountain bike racing and that seemed to help keep my mind off my pain as I needed all my focus to be on the trail and the trees closest to it.

Cycling (along with my 12 step program) has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams and believe me this TransAm ride is quite possibly the wildest. I am so excited to embark on this epic adventure with my good friend Thane. Please sign our Guestbook in the second row near the top. We will respond.

Introduction: Thane

Saturday January 19, 2013

Hubbard Lake, in Northern lower Michigan, is a beautiful place for a cyclist to ride. It consists of a 23 mile loop that begins and ends at the ice cream shop in the small village of Hubbard lake. The route around the lake consists of several climbs, interrupted briefly by hills. Including one with a pitch of over 10 %.My wife and I were both raised in this area. We were high school sweethearts who fell in love at age 15. If anyone really knows what love is at age 15! We have been blessed to be able to raise our two children here and live within cycling distance of both of them and our grandkids. Yes, even after 33 years of putting up with my craziness she still claims to love me most of the time.The story of this cycling adventure begins one beautiful summer night. A small group of cyclist were doing their weekly trip around Hubbard Lake. It is a mix of young and old. Weak and strong. Guys and gals. All thrown together with one common trait. The absolute love of cycling.This was my first time cycling with this group and I remember my wife saying to me as I walked out the door. “Are you nuts, you don’t ride with people”. She was absolutely right. Until then I didn’t. I was introduced to everyone and we all took off to face one of the most challenging rides in our neck of the woods.

He was small in stature with an incredible smile. I assumed he was in his late 50’s. He and I were just two random strangers thrown into this mix and we rode off together through the late afternoon heat. It was only later that I came to realize that fate had also brought he and I together that day.

At 52 years of age. I smiled as I was able to power up most of the hills in the pack of riders that lead the charge. I have never raced a bicycle, but I do race often. It seems that every now and then the voices inside my head taunt me into a race against the clock or against the last time I had traversed this stretch of road. Sometimes I would race myself to the next telephone pole or the next cross road a mile away.

Today, for some strange reason, I thought to myself I might actually like cycling with others. What an odd thing to think.

On each and every climb this day I would see him ahead of me. In the distance. Seemingly dancing on the pedals in an effortless symphony of beauty. This dude is the god of cycling I thought to myself!

At about the 15 mile point in this day stood the summit of Mt. Mariah. In its day it was a bustling ski resort. My wife and I taught our children to ski on those slopes and each time I cycle up the face of that beast I am flooded with incredible thoughts of snow, and hot chocolate and the beauty of being a dad.

This day was no exception. Those thoughts of days gone by again traversed the corners of my mind as my bicycle and I crawled up the backside of this hill at about 6 mph. Yea, I said 6 mph!

At the top I could see him waiting at the side of the road. This god of cycling. His name was Bobby Brady and as I came along side him I unclipped my feet, threw my legs over the top tube and asked if he was ok. He threw me a smile and simply pointed out that today we are a little stronger than some of the others and he wanted to wait for his friends.

The small pack of riders that we started with were only a few minutes behind us but in those brief moments this cycling god/climbing machine/ hell of a nice guy and I got to know one another a little bit.

For years, Bobby had raced mountain bikes. When he is not riding his mountain bike he enjoys the challenges of road cycling and playing with his beloved dogs. His smile widens as he tells me of his wife and children.

By this time my heart rate is probably back to a number that my doctor would approve of I ask my new cycling friend Bobby one final question. With a huge smile on my face I said “Hey Bob, what the hell were you addicted to before it was cycling”.

His eyes widened and a smile came over his face as he replied “Alcohol! I am a recovering alcoholic and this bicycle has helped save my life”.

At that point the rest of our group had made their way up the summit. For a short period of time we talked of the beauty of the day. The beauty of cycling and the beauty of this thing we all call life. Made even more incredible as we all peered over the handle bars on a 45 mph descent.

With the steepest of the climbs behind us my new friend and I continued to ride together. His openness and willingness to share his story of recovery from alcohol inspired me. His simple way of looking at the world over the top tube and set of handle bars was a thing of beauty to me.

Shortly before this ride was to come to an end he and his bike slowed slightly and the guy sucking his back wheel for the last few miles rolled up even with him. In a very calm and direct voice Bobby said something to me that I simply will never forget. “Thane, I am planning on cycling across the United States as soon as I retire next year. And you are going with me. I am going to be self contained. Sleep in a tent. Do most of my own cooking. Its a little over 4200 miles and I think your going with me.”

I just started laughing and said “Bobby, my friend, you are out of your fucking mind.” “That’s insane. No, that’s beyond insane”

Truly, that is how this whole concept of cycling across America began for me. A small seed planted by a dude on a bike that could out ride and out climb everyone that summer day.

For the next couple months his words would invade my soul from time to time. Usually when my bicycle and I were doing battle with some steep hill or I was trying to once again win a race with myself to the next telephone pole.

Summer turned into fall and fall turned into winter and winter magically turned into spring as it always does here in Michigan. But, this spring was different. Deep inside me, the seed that was planted about traversing this country on a bicycle had germinated and was now large enough for my wife to see. She and I had several chats about the misadventures of her hubby and his bicycle. Over the last few weeks though all talks centered around a 4200 mile trip with a friend.

My wife is the more logical one of the two of us. Often she would remind me that I am self employed and if I choose to shut down my business for a couple months then that means no money……. duh, how do the bills get paid. ” And what about the grandkids”. She would say. How do you expect them to survive without seeing grampy for two months or more. And if that’s not enough to think about, what about the fact that you and I have been married for 33 years and have never spent more than a couple days away from one another.” And the question that always brought a smile to my face from her. “And what do I put on your headstone if you get killed along the way? DUMB ASS!” She would always follow that statement with a smile.

After a little soul searching, my wife as come to accept the fact that I may be a dumb ass. A dumb ass dreamer!

However, she loves me and supports this effort to boldly go where most men who cycle only brave to go to in their minds. She is truly the love of my life. My soul mate. The mother of my kids and the Grammy to theirs. Her heart is as big as the sun and I am blessed to call her my friend. Without her support none of this journey will be possible

In May my friend Bobby Brady and I, along with our bikes and probably more gear than we need will be heading to Yorktown, Virginia to begin our journey.

I do want anyone reading this to please beware. I am writing this journal from the heart. For better or worse I simply must write what I feel. If my ramblings offend you then I would ask you to please step away from the screen and continue to enjoy this beautiful thing called life. If for some strange reason you feel compelled to follow along on this journey with Bobby and I then I welcome you into my world and I am both honored and humbled to be a small part of yours.

For more on their adventure please use this link to keep up to date: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/epictour2013