Localman crosses country on bicycle

Published on Thu, Sep 20, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Local man crosses country on bicycle

By Tara Nelson

It was still mid-June and raining when Allan Williams, of Blaine, was training for what would likely be the ride of his life.

Williams, 69, a neuroradiologist and native of St. Louis, Missouri, had quit his job at an Everett clinic earlier that April to train daily for a planned ride from Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire by bicycle.

The ride covered 3,962 miles and was organized and guided by the America by Bicycle Tour, a guided bicycle tour company based in New Hampshire. Williams said he traveled an average of 80 miles per day with eight days averaging more than 100 miles.

“I had been thinking about it for seven or eight years,” he said. “But the reality was you’ve got to take a lot of training so it takes a big commitment.”He admits that, at age 69, the journey was partly based on his love of the midwest and partly a personal challege to test his physical limits.

So to test the water, Williams said he completed the first leg of the journey in 2005 from Astoria to Boise, Idaho, which would prove to be the one of the most difficult legs of the trip

“I learned so much with regard to bike clothing, training and bike setup on that ride,” he said. “It was a real eye-opener.”

During the next trip, Williams said the second leg from Boise to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which crossed the Continental Divide, had proved even more difficult.

Luckily, Williams said he kept ahead of a progressive heatwave that seemed to trail the bikers across the states.

Williams said one of his favorite moments of the ride was riding one of the last coal-powered ferries in the United States in Michigan and visiting a corn palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, of which the exterior of the building was covered in corn.

“It was an unbelieveable thing,” he said. “But those are the kinds of things that made the ride so neat.”