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Crisscrossing America PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 October 2009 12:24

Ryan Crago is bicyling his way from coast to coast

By robert pierce

After signing up for a stint as an analyst with a middle market investment bank, Ryan Crago had worked as an investment banker in Manhattan, N.Y., for two years.

Following that stint, Crago said he wanted to take some time away from finance and the business world to get more of a perspective, challenge himself and see more of America.

Because of this, in August, Crago, along with three of his friends, began riding cross-country starting from Virginia Beach, Va. He said the original destination of the journey was Seattle, but now, the group is headed for San Diego.

“As the months have grown colder, we’ve kind of figured out that it’s a little more prudent to go south,” he said. “We’ve slowly been angling our trajectory as the months have gone by.”

Crago stopped in Liberal Wednesday, and he said prior to starting his trek across the country, he had trained for and competed in a triathlon in July in New York, but had little biking experience before that.

“Prior to that, I hadn’t ridden a bike since fifth grade,” he said.

“It’s similar with my three friends as well. They had a little here and there, but nothing more than three miles a day.”

Crago said the group had originally mapped out a route through the Web site adventurecycling.com.

“In 1976, they had set up a ride across the country to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States,” he said. “They’d set up a very scenic pleasant, but meandering route through the United States from somewhere in Oregon to Yorktown, Va.”

So the group originally planned to follow that route backwards from Virginia to Oregon, but Crago said they later decided to try something more direct.

“The other route was going up and down,” he said. “I was like I don’t know if I really want to see the largest frying pan in Virginia.”

Crago said the group used a map for about the first week or so of the trip, but they have been freestyling it since then.

“We’ve just kind of been thinking to ourselves what would be cool to see that’s kind of in the general direction we’re going,” he said.

“We’ve been doing that since.”

Crago said the group came to Liberal after hearing about one of its major tourist attractions.

“One of the guys mentioned that Dorothy’s House was here,” he said.

“That’s a good enough reason for us. We’re going to Liberal.”

Crago left on his journey on Aug. 18, and the latest he would like to arrive at the Pacific Ocean would be Oct. 20.

“I’m signed up for a mountaineering program that starts on the 8th of November,” he said. “I’ve gotta catch a flight out of Dallas on the 6th. I’d like a little bit of time between when I finish to hang out with some relatives in California and then get back to Texas for a bit before I head out.”

Crago said since training for the triathlon, he has been quicker than the rest of his group, and this has presented some challenges.

“There’s kind of been a back and forth between me really wanting to challenge myself each day, but at the same time, wanting to experience everything with my friends,” he said.

Crago was presented with a road block in his plans recently, however, but he said this has made him want to reach his destination soon.

“My grandma had a heart attack about a week ago,” he said. “She lives in California. That’s kind of encouraged me to want to get there a little quicker.”

Crago has seen many sites on his trip including the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

“It’s a climbing mecca,” he said. “They have amazing outdoor sport climbing. One of the places we were directed to go to there was a pizza place called Miguel’s Pizza. It’s a little bit off the freeway there.”

The owner of Miguel’s not only runs a pizza place, but he also sells climbing gear, according to Crago.

“He allows climbers to camp behind his building for $2,” he said. “He was nice enough to allow us to stay there as well.”

Crago said some climbers invited his group to go up with them. This was a new experience for him.

“It was midnight,” he said. “I’d never been sport climbing. They gave us all head lamps. We had ropes and harnesses. They leg climbed it and took us up. It was pretty cool.”

Other sites Crago has seen include Louisville and Lexington, Ky., and a national park near the Virginia/Kentucky border.

“Some of the locals there were telling us it is the largest canyon in the U.S. outside the Grand Canyon,” he said. “It was amazing. The countryside we’ve gone through has been spectacular.”

Crago said what has impressed him the most is the people he has met along the way.

“Just how generous and open everyone’s been to help us out with putting us up for the evening, giving us somewhere to shower, just being interested about the trip and all the encouragement that we’ve seen,” he said.

Crago said initially, the group wanted to ride for charity, but after he and his friends met with some friends from Arizona, they decided this was not the best path to take with the trek.

“We had all met in Virginia Beach to do this,” he said. “After mine and my colleague’s from New York rigid schedule that we had while we were working, we didn’t really want that much structure which made a little more difficult to raise money for charity.”

Crago was born in Sacramento, Calif. He moved to Dallas when he was young, and when he was in the fifth grade, he tried mountain biking.

This, he said, was his only background in cycling previous to making his trip.

“I would go up and down the hills, flew off my handle bars a few times,” he said. “After that, I didn’t get on a bike again until I began training for the triathlon. I bought my bike in January of this year. Prior to that, zero cycling experience.”


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