BY JOE MULDOWNEY
The lockdown of 2020 has postponed many sporting events, but that does not mean that endurance athletes haven’t found other ways to challenge themselves.
Tim Patton, 26, of Pottsville, is a runner and a very accomplished cyclist. In 2016, he pedaled the Pacific Coast, from California to Oregon, a distance of 1,600 miles. That same year, he rode more than 1,000 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, to California.
In 2017, he covered 2,200 miles from Paris, France, to Naples, Italy.
In November 2019, he decided that he wanted to achieve a cycling milestone, so he began to plan a cross-country cycling trek that would take him from Los Angeles, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Toes inches from the Pacific Ocean, on Feb. 16, Tim began his 3,080-mile, cross-country journey.
Although he mapped out his route to take him along mostly scenic roads, this was hardly a joy ride. As logged in his journal, Patton covered 423 miles during his first week on the road, followed by weeks of 420, 590 and 440 miles.
In between, he took rest days, so he was on the road for a total of 47 days, 33 of them cycling days, for a staggering average of 93.3 miles a day. His highest mileage day consisted of 158 miles.
Winter winds usually blow in from the west, so Patton figured that a tailwind would assist him on the trek.
In western Texas, however, he experienced two days of 30-mile-per-hour headwinds that slowed his times to around 11 miles per hour. He described the weather conditions as “mildly annoying.”
Along the way, he was awed by the grandeur of the Mississippi River, challenged by the hills of New Mexico and west Texas, and enjoyed riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In Duncan, Arizona, a patron at a restaurant paid for his lunch. He also stopped at an ice cream stand in Texas, where he was told, “Cyclists get free ice cream.”
He had few negative experiences.
“I almost got run over once in Arizona and again in Mississippi,” he recounted.
And, in Fort Worth, Texas, during a driving rain, he hit a pothole, crashed his bike, and bruised his hip badly enough to cause his leg to swell that evening. He got up the next day and hopped back in the saddle.
Besides bananas and energy bars, his massive daily calorie burn caused him to fuel his body with eggs, toast, barbecue, fajitas and breakfast sandwiches.
When the pandemic hit in March, Patton was forced to change his plans and suffered the “biggest disappointment of my trip.” He did, indeed, ride his bicycle from coast to coast, but he was forced to end his journey at the Atlantic Ocean, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on April 2.
Despite the adjustment to his finishing point, Patton thoroughly enjoyed his cross-country cycling experience and said he would do it again.
When I asked him what’s next, he replied, “Next time I’ll go from east to west. New York to Washington state.
Joe Muldowney is an avid runner, retired educator and head cross country coach at Penn State Schuylkill.