Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 12, 2017
From Seattle to Stonington: Biker with island ties rides cross-country
by Monique Labbe
Kevin Shriver recently traveled the 3,734 miles from Seattle, Wash. to Stonington, Maine. The 47-day trek was not done from the comfort of a vehicle with four wheels and a motor, as is commonly done on a cross-country road trip. Shriver completed the journey atop a custom built touring bicycle, with nothing but a change of clothes, his wallet, a spare tire and a handful of bike mechanic tools on his back.
“My theory is that the person who dies with the most stories wins,” said Shriver of his decision to take on the cross-country trip. “I had read a lot about people who had done long bike journeys, and so I decided to do it.”
Shriver picked up an Adventure Cycling Association map of the Northern Tier Route, which he then based his trip around. The route took him through a variety of terrain, including the mountains of Montana and the flatlands of North Dakota and Idaho. The trip went through a total of 11 states and the Canadian province of Ontario, averaging about 83 miles a day.
Shriver, who is the son-in-law of Caroline and the late Jim Rittenhouse of Stonington, started training for his excursion in May, with 60-70 mile rides a few times a week. He said he heard of some riders who had only trained a small amount before a major ride and used the first week of the trek to settle into a groove.
“That wasn’t something I wanted to do,” said Shriver. “I trained pretty seriously from the start.”
Shriver had companions along most of his journey, as a couple friends joined him for different legs. His brother Mike was on the trip during most of the final week but suffered an illness, which left Shriver alone for the final four days.
“Coming into Maine, there were some pretty spiky hills that were tricky,” he said. “It was great to see the end and to get back to [wife] Sarah.”
His wife met him at the beginning of the bridge to get onto the island, and actually slowed down traffic for him to cross safely.
While the visuals of differing scenery were highlights of the trip, Shriver said one of the most surprising highlights was the response to a blog he wrote that gave a detailed account of his journey.
“I had people commenting all the time about how the blog was inspiring to them, and that they looked forward to our daily posts,” he said. “That wasn’t something I expected.”
The blog was the only communication with the outside world, outside of contact with his family, throughout his entire journey.
“It was definitely a conscious decision,” said Shriver. “I didn’t turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper or read anything about what was going on in current events. That was one of the biggest take aways from this trip for me, I think, that it made me really focus on what was going on immediately around me and not worry so much about things I can’t control.”
After 47 days, 45 of which consisted of riding, Shriver finished his ride on what would have been his father-in-law’s 90th birthday. A dip of his front tire into Stonington Harbor capped off a trip filled with self reflection, beautiful landscapes and memories Shriver will take back home with him to Minnesota.