Initially, they rode around Boston and then crossed the state line into New Hampshire. Whenever they had the chance, they took two-day cycling trips to Lake Sunapee and the surrounding mountains, roughly 150 miles from Waban, their hometown.
Adventure, Charity & Lions
After four years of the same routine, the bicyclist group grew restless. In 1995, one member suggested riding across America.
Dr. Weinblatt says, “We did a point-to-point ride,” explaining that no one could take several months off from work to ride across the country. “We planned a route, flew to Oregon and rode seven to 10 days a year. Where we finished one year, we started [where we had left off] the next year.”
It took five years to ride across the country. Each day, they would bicycle between 80 and 100 miles.
The first year, he says, the group bicycled through Oregon, from Florence to the bottom of Hell’s Canyon. The second year’s route took them from Hell’s Canyon to Glacier National Park, Mt. The third year, the group rode from Missoula, Mt., to Fargo, N.D. In year four, the group bicycled from Fargo to Mandolin Island, Ontario. During the final leg of the trip, they rode from Canada by way of Niagara Falls back to Boston.
“We rented a van, put the bikes in the van and rotated drivers every hour,” he adds. “When we got to mountain passes, because all of us wanted to ride the passes, we would leave the van at the bottom of the pass. Whoever got up to the pass first would ride back down and drive the van back up.”
This first ride was a charity ride. One of the group’s members was a gastroenterologist who was honored by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The bicyclists raised money in his name, mainly from friends and neighbors, persuading them to donate money for every mile they rode.
After completing the first ride across the country, a second cross-country trip was planned. It took seven years to complete. This time, the group followed the TransAmerica Trail, normally a several-month, 4,200-mile journey through nine states.
During both cross-country trips, the group was reminded about the potential hazards of bicycling. While riding though Colorado, Dr. Weinblatt says one bicyclist hit a rock, spun out of control, bounced off a guardrail and then bounced back into the road. “He ended up with serious road burn,” he says.