Frisco local embarks on 3,000 mile journey in honor of veterans, first responders
Long bike rides are a challenge. As the miles start to rack up, the inevitable saddle sores set in and the pedals become more challenging to churn.
Avid and recreational cyclists know all about these challenges during 50-mile treks. Just imagine the pain a cyclist would endure during a 3,000-mile trip from the Rocky Mountains to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
That journey is exactly what 62-year-old Frisco resident Tom Stechschulte set out to accomplish on Tuesday, April 19, when he emerged from his residence near Main Street and lugged his bike over to the Frisco Museum and Historic Park, the starting point of his cross-country endeavor.
He was greeted at the starting line by the Frisco Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office — agencies he hopes to honor as he makes his way east.
Several years ago, Stechschulte was saved by first responders while riding through Oregon’s High Desert as he neared Baker City. Stechschulte was not prepared for the heat of the desert and ran out of water, but thanks to a good Samaritan who came across Stechschulte on the road, a group of first responders transported fluids to Stechschulte and kept an eye on him until he reached the safety of town.
Since that moment, Stechschulte has felt indebted to first responders, veterans and their families for saving his life. The act also inspired him to raise money for the foundation Tunnel to Towers during his 3,000-mile ride.
Stechschulte has a goal to raise $25,000 for the organization, which strives to provide American heroes and the families they leave behind with mortgage-free homes.
As of Tuesday morning, Stechschulte had already raised $8,000, putting him on pace for well above $50,000 by the conclusion of his trip in June.
Stechschulte will travel from Frisco to Louisville, Kentucky for his niece’s wedding before riding across the Appalachian Mountains into Virginia and heading south through the outer banks of the Carolinas. Stechschulte will conclude his journey by traveling across Georgia, before arriving at his final destination of Ocala, Florida.
“I haven’t been able to do a lot of bike training this year due to the snow, but I think by the time I get to Louisville, Kentucky, I should be in good shape,” Stechschulte said.
The end date circled on the calendar is June 23, meaning Stechschulte will need to stick on the mind-boggling pace of 60-miles a day for 50 consecutive days.
Stechschulte is no stranger to long bike rides across the country, though, since he has done several other trips prior to the 3,000-mile adventure to the Atlantic.
“My largest trip consisted of biking from Breckenridge through Wyoming and over to Oregon,” Stechschulte said. “I have also done several Ride the Rockies, which really got me going in terms of long-distance riding and in the interest of doing it in a solo, self-contained manner.”
Self-contained means that everything that may be needed throughout a long ride is carried on the bicycle.
Stechschulte’s bike is equipped with 70-pounds worth of gear packed into panniers on either side of the bike frame, which will carry two-weeks worth of food, water, clothes and camping gear.
Stechschulte plans to camp in his tent every day of the week except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when he plans to get a hotel in order to shower and shave.
In order to keep him fueled with enough calories to keep the pedals turning, Stechschulte has sent freeze-dried food ahead of him, which can easily be picked up at a local post office upon rolling into town.
The hardest section of the journey was planned for his first day as he climbs up the grueling and twisty Hoosier Pass, Stechschulte said.
“From Frisco to the top of Hoosier Pass at 11,000 feet — that first day — is going to be my Super Bowl,” Stechschulte said. ”It will be all downhill from there to the Mississippi River.“
Having embarked on long journeys before, Stechschulte feels well prepared, but also feels like his biggest challenge while out on the road will be the days where he feels burned out and does not know if he can make it to the next break on the road.
Stechschulte plans to overcome these challenges by remembering who he is doing the bike ride for and taking the ride one road post at a time, rather than focusing on how much farther he has left to bike.
“I’m shaking, I’ve never been so excited in my life,” Stechschulte said prior to starting his journey.
After thanking everyone present at the Frisco Historic Park and posing for a photo with his hometown heroes, Stechschulte received a police escort along Main Street by the some of Summit County’s first responders.
As he got his gear-laden bike up to speed, Stechschulte waved to onlookers cheering him on.
The squad cars led Stechschulte through the first mile of his ride, which took him straight down Main Street, across Summit Boulevard, over to Frisco Bay Marina and onto the Summit Rec Path leading to Breckenridge.
Stechschulte’s progress to Florida can be tracked via an email newsletter which Stechschulte will send out on occasion while out on the road. To access the newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate to Stechschulte’s fundraiser for Tunnel to Towers, visit DoGood.T2T.org.
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