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MOUNT WASHINGTON - With every peddle of his Fuji touring bicycle Andy French, 20, comes closer to realizing his childhood dream of cycling from sea to shining sea across the United States.
The college senior’s 3,600-mile journey began about a month and a half ago in California, when he took off on his bike with four bags containing little more than a few articles of clothing, some Ramen noodles and oatmeal, a small tent, a sleeping bag and a few toiletries.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years now,” he said. “I just thought it would be a neat thing to do one day.”
Shortly after finishing his spring classes at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg Va., the pre-med student flew to San Francisco for what he calls the experience of a lifetime.
“I’m making the most of my summer break,” he said.
Since May 21, French has pedaled an average of 80 miles per day, stopping
only to rest and eat, occasionally pausing to admire the scenery.
He explained that the ride has been very demanding both mentally and physically, almost unbearable at times, testing his will and strength.
“It’s worn me down a lot,” French said. “It’s a long time to go without seeing your family and friends. It can be tough.”
French said the lowest point of his journey came four days after he left San Francisco as he was ascending the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California.
Each pedal became more difficult than the last going into the mountain range. The heat was tremendous. French became so exhausted that he couldn’t go on. There he was, unable to continue, left on the side of the
Fortunately he was picked up by highway patrol officer and taken to a hotel.
French said the trip has been a constant struggle, but his determination has kept him going.
“I feel like I’m really pushing myself and accomplishing something, I just think of it as a real growing experience …finding out what your capable of, seeing what you will do in tough situations, seeing what you can push yourself to do.”
He could’ve stopped at any time, but French said he’s never been one to quit.
“I figured I started this, I should just go ahead and finish it,” he said.
The thing that’s kept him going was thinking of his family and returning home to Virginia.
“I just keep telling myself that the only way I’m going to get home is to keep going,” he said.
The highlight of his trip has been his recent visit to north central Kentucky when he had the opportunity to spend a few days with his family in Elizabethtown and Mount Washington.
“It was a real morale booster,” French said. “That was definitely my favorite part of the trip.”
French has enjoyed cycling for as long as he could remember and he‘s done a lot of cycling, but he said nothing could’ve prepared him for the trans-America ride.
“The most I’d ever ridden in one day was 50 miles before this,” French said. “It’s a totally different type of cycling than I’d done before.”
French’s journey will come to an end in the next couple of weeks when he rides into Yorktown Va.
“It’s been a great experience, but it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience,” French said.
“I have no interest in doing it again.”
The very first thing French plans to do when he gets home is take a shower.