Steamboat Springs man reflects on 5,000-mile, 48-day coast-to-coast bike journey |

Steamboat Springs man reflects on 5,000-mile, 48-day coast-to-coast bike journey

Joe Reichenberger
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Schlichtman at the end of the line in San Francisco.
Mike Schlichtman / Special to The Daily

The following is excerpted from the Summer 2018 issue of Steamboat Living magazine, highlighting Routt County locals’ top adventures from 2017.

Let’s see … mountain bike 5,100 miles from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to Oregon’s Pacific Coast? Why not?

That was the attitude of local Mike Schlichtman when he set off Aug. 22, 2017, on the American Trail Race, an unsupported mountain bike race from one coast to the other.

In all, the ride took Schlichtman — a veteran Ironman Triathlete who’s twice attempted the 2,700-mile Tour Divide ride — a grueling 48 days. But pedaling his two wheels wasn’t as much of an issue as the weather.

In the first half of his ride, the heat beat him down. In Oklahoma, his handle-bar thermometer registered 111 degrees. Then it turned the other way in the Rocky Mountains, especially when reports showed an autumn cold front sweeping through the region.

“I made it into Telluride and woke up in the morning and looked back up at Imogene pass,” Schlichtman said. “It was solid white. I wouldn’t have made it anytime soon if I hadn’t made it that day.”

With a light rain still falling, he set out again, but just 25 miles later, he was huddling under a tree with hypothermia setting in. “My hands were pretty much like clubs,” he said. “That was a bad day.”

Salvation came from a passing bow hunter who gave him a ride 35 miles to a small hotel.

After a day off, he returned to the tree and continued where he had left off. Continuing to race the weather, with trails in the Northwest closing fast, he diverted his course to finish in San Francisco instead of Oregon, arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge nearly 50 days after setting out from the Outer Banks.

He cherishes everything he picks up each time he dives into such an adventure.

“One thing you learn on things like this is that you can always do more than you think you can do,” said Schlichtman, who’s already planning a return to tackle the Tour Divide ride again next year. “I really wanted to push the limits on that.”

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