Prospect man rides bicycle from sea to shining sea
PROSPECT — Simply put, Mark Pavkovich said he was “looking for something to do.”
So he decided to go for a bicycle ride — across the Continental United States.
The Prospect resident began the trek May 3 — his 65th birthday — in Cape Alva, Wash. That was the farthest western point among the 48 states.
“I wanted to go from the farthest point west to the farthest point east,” Pavkovich said. “I had no time frame or goal in mind. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to complete the ride.
“If I decided I couldn’t or just got bored with the whole thing, I figured I would just stop, rent a car and go home.”
That never happened.
Pavkovich rode through 12 states — Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He spent 438 hours on the bicycle, pedaling for 4,159 miles while going through 228 cities.
His ride ended July 31 by a lighthouse in Lubec, Maine. That was the farthest point east on his journey, the route keeping him in the northern part of the country.
“Two years ago, I bicycled across Pennsylvania in four and a half days,” Pavkovich said. “That went well, but it was nothing like this.”
A friend went with Pavkovich in his car, as he attached his bike to the vehicle and drove across the country to Washington to begin his journey. The friend then drove his car back home.
Another friend — Matt Chaney of Beaver County — rode a bike with Pavkovich for the first three and a half weeks. He veered off in Montana to visit relatives. From that point, Pavkovich was on his own.
He had some gear — including a sleeping bag — stuffed in a basket on the back end of his bike. He had more gear in a basket by the handlebars. He made the entire 90-day trip with just two sets of clothing.
Most of his nights were spent in motels, most of his meals were eaten in restaurants. He did have snack food and water with him most of the time. He used Google Maps to plot his path.
“I probably spent $3,000 on food, $10,000 on motels,” Pavkovich said.
He took 12 days off during the trip. He never followed a strict travel agenda.
“When I got tired for the day, I was done for the day,” he said.
Pavkovich averaged 50 to 60 miles of bicycling each day. His longest ride was 106 miles in Michigan. His shortest ride was 28 miles.
The majority of his bicycling was done on highways. Pavkovich’s longest ride on a bike trail was 200 miles up on the Erie Canal. He said he only rode in the dark “maybe a couple of times.
“I took a selfie every time I got to a state line,” Pavkovich added. “I’d usually stop riding for a day between 4 and 8 p.m. I started out at different times,. Some mornings I slept in and got going late. Other days I got up early and got in a longer ride.”
Two major pluses for him during the ride were good weather and minor bicycle maintenance.
“I only ran into train on three days. That was unbelievably good luck,” Pavkovich said. “None of the rain was bad. I just rode through it. The heavy rain and flooding around Yellowstone, I missed by a few days.
“If that didn’t time out right, it could have been rough.”
The tires on his bicycle held up for the entire trip. The only bike maintenance issue he came across was a bent wheel.
“That happened in Wisconsin,” Pavkovich said. “I took it to a bike shop in Marquette. Trek, the company I bought the bike from, stepped up and paid for the new wheel, labor, everything. It was more than a hundred dollars. I wasn’t expecting that.”
Highlights of his cross-country excursion included the Cascades Mountain Range in Washington, Glacier National Park in Montana and the Adironack Mountains in New York.
“The worst part was riding across North Dakota ... It was so flat, no trees and the head-winds were difficult,” he said. “If I rode into head-winds 35 to 40 miles per hur, I’d have to stop. That kind of wind would blow me right off my bike.”
Pavkovich never took ill during the 90 days. He said he held up physically during the journey.
“My butt would get sore at times, but that was understandable,” he said, laughing. “My legs got a little sore. I’d cramp up a bit when I went to bed at times, but only because I didn’t drink enough to stay hydrated that day.”
Now that it’s over, Pavkovich insists he has no regrets.
“None at all ... except now I have to find something else to do,” he said.