TOLOVANA PARK — If Forrest Gump crossed the country running today, he would have no lack of sponsors.

On the first day of summer, Bob Quick, from Roy, Utah, stood along the Pacific Ocean in Tolovana Park before mounting his bike for his second cross-country ride. Quick, the only known cross-country rider with 16 heart stents and a defibrillator, hopes to raise awareness for health and fitness. Quick first made the cross-country trip in 2013 in 91 days, starting in San Diego.

Last fall, Tom Baltes of Camas, Washington, started in Seaside and cycled an incredible 4,000 miles to Portland, Maine to fight rheumatoid arthritis and promotes physical fitness.

In Cannon Beach, employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb launched their Cycle Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer earlier this month for cancer research.

They left from Tolovana State Park last week, aiming for Hood River the first day. Eighty riders will pedal a combined total of 2,800 miles.

Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall of the Citizens Climate Lobby began their ride from Seaside at the end of August, destination Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of their organization’s carbon-fee strategy to reduce global warming. A rangy young woman from Edina, Minnesota, Ahler is a veteran of hundreds of long-distance bike rides. She sees climate change as a message worth taking to the road.

“My goal on this bike ride is to spread hope and possibility in the face of this daunting problem,” Ahler said. “Oh, and I also have a passion for biking and have set a goal to cross the country before I’ve reached the age of 50. Since I’m 47 now, I figured I might as well give it a try.”

The Adventure Cycling Association offers route maps for the long-distance cyclist, starting at a mere 250.5 miles from Santa Barbara to Imperial Beach, California, to the 4,228-mile TransAmerica Trail from Astoria to Yorktown, Virginia.

Ahler and Hall mapped their coast-to-coast based on the association’s Lewis and Clark route.

The road from Seaside retraces the expedition route and ends in Hartford, Illinois, and is described by Adventure Cycling as “made up of paved roads, bike paths and unpaved rail-trails, with occasional short sections of gravel roads. Conditions vary from rural to urban and include windy stretches lacking in shoulders.”

The journey roughly follows the 1804-05 path of explorers Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark along the Missouri and Columbia rivers and Clark’s 1806 eastbound return along the Yellowstone River in Montana. “Occasional rough roads, narrow to nonexistent shoulders, and sparse services make this one of our more challenging routes,” advises the association, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire bicycle travel.

If a route has historical significance, it is somewhat easier to plot, the association’s communications director Lisa McKinney said in an email.

“For example, on the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail, we already knew where the route would go,” McKinney said. “We just had to decide which side of the Missouri and Columbia rivers had better bicycling conditions. And we knew where to go once reaching the Rocky Mountains.”

Adventure Cycling’s staff contacts local cyclists or cycling clubs to “road-truth” alternates.

“The philosophy we use as a guide is our routes should be designed to follow ‘corridors of attraction,’ i.e., scenery, cultural/historic points of interest, varieties of geography, terrain, and inhabitants,” McKinney said.

Plan on around three months (give or take) for the crossing — more if you want to sightsee.

Cyclists Ahler and Hall cycled out of the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest in Idaho; they were in Missoula on Sept. 12. They plan on celebrating their arrival in Washington, D.C., with a bottle of Oregon pinot noir.

On Sept. 5, Bob Quick posted photographs of himself along Lake Michigan. He observed 9/11 with first responders in Suttons Bay, Michigan. He still has a way to go before he gets to his final destination of New York’s Montauk Point Lighthouse.

Tom Baltes, who rode 4,000 miles last year, is planning to do it again this fall. This time he’ll take the southern route. He is currently riding in the seven-day Annual Bike Classic Oregon a 363-mile, six-day bicycle tour from Astoria to Brookings.

I can make it to Brookings in 7 hours, 22 minutes in my 2004 Audi, according to Google maps. But then, I might be missing something.

“You are the driver of your own life,” Quick posted. “Don’t let anyone steal your seat.”

R.J. Marx is The Daily Astorian’s South County reporter and editor of the Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach Gazette.


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