Biker Dan’s Trip of a Lifetime

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By Martin Renzhofer

Dan Hurwitz began his cross-country cycling trip on May 9, with a ride from San Jose to Castroville, CA. After pedaling for 73 days, he has reached Indiana. Image (c) Dan Hurwitz, 2019 all rights reserved

Dan Hurwitz didn’t mind peddling a well-worn cliché to describe his experiences cycling the hills across the country.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” the software contractor from Bedford said. “The mountains nearly killed me.” Hurwitz nearly met his match navigating Loveland Pass, a high mountain pass nearly 12,000 feet above sea level and about 60 miles west of Denver.

Prior to his trek through the Rocky Mountains, Hurwitz had planned on traveling 75 miles a day from his starting point at San Jose, Calif. He wanted to be in Sturbridge on Aug. 2 in time to take part in the Pan-Mass Challenge, the annual bike-a-thon that raises money for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Hurwitz has had to reconfigure his time table and now hopes to raise money for the PMC as an independent entity. Now, he’s looking at mid-August to pedal into Sturbridge and hopes to make his challenge of raising $20,000.

“Originally, I had planned on 87 days of riding,” Hurwitz said.

Seven years ago, he cycled from Bedford to Harrisburg, Pa. for the PMC and was successful in his 75-mile-a-day plan. However, time never rests.

“I didn’t account for being seven years older,” the 65-year-old said. “Second, I only had half as much baggage. My bike is heavier. It took twice as long to get through the mountains.”

With his schedule shot, Hurwitz has been able to relax a bit and soak in America. On July 18, he had spent the night in the city park of Odell, Illinois, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents outside of Chicago.

Apparently, Odell is a stopping point for many cyclists, and Hurwitz was able to use the shower at the town’s swimming pool, create a new itinerary at the town library, and make a new friend who arranged his transportation to the county fair.

At first, though, Hurwitz balked.  The fair was 10 miles away in the wrong direction.

“Today, I’m staying an extra day because of the rain,” he said. “Yesterday, I talked to a guy who mowed the [city park] lawn and found out he was the manager of a local bank. He urged me to accept and said he would drive me to the county fair. He also made arrangements to bring me back.

“Some people have been really nice to me. I was staying in a state park in Utah, and a couple invited me to dinner.”

Hurwitz has had a few close calls since hitting the road, including a passing car or truck that felt awfully close. However, other than replacing a chain and a tire, the bike has performed flawlessly.

This ride is to raise money, but it is also the realization of a life-long dream.

“I’ve always wanted to ride my bike across the country,” Hurwitz said, who was raised in Williamsport, Pa., the home of the Little League World Series. “I told my boss I was going to take four months off. I told them I hope I’m not retired.”

Hurwitz’s boss not only agreed but urged him to take a few weeks off afterward to decompress before coming back to work.

Hurwitz does not have a support team on the road, but his wife Jennifer and two grown daughters keep track of his minute-by-minute progress through GPS.

For the most part, Hurwitz has been able to drink in America at bike speed, except while in the Rocky Mountains. He crossed the Continental Divide three times as he negotiated mountain passes with inclines of 10 to 20 miles.

Of course, he was able to gladly glide on the other side, where he would reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour – sometimes battling strong crosswinds. He has ridden the starkly beautiful Escalante Staircase in southern Utah and found that the Great Plains weren’t exactly flat.

“I was so much stronger after the mountains,” Hurwitz said. “If I would have made the same ride through Iowa and Nebraska [without taking the mountains] I would have been walking. The big element is learning how to ride.”

Hurwitz will soon make his way across Ohio and into Pennsylvania and is confident that the trip will end with success.

“First of all, I have no doubt that I will finish the ride,” he said. “I feel great. I’m shocked at how great I feel. I’ve raised money, I’ve met people and am seeing our country. The opportunity to see the country at bike speed is just wonderful. Except when it’s not. Then it’s miserable, depending on how many county fairs I can get to.”

Keep in Touch with Dan

To track Dan Hurwitz’s journey, he posts nearly every day on Bikerdan.wordpress.com. To follow Dan’s ride mile-by-mile, sign up for www.RideWithGPS.com, and follow dhurwitz.

To make a donation to Dan’s 2019 Pan-Mass Challenge ride, click this link https://profile.pmc.org/DH0128


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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