St. Louis Park, Minn. resident Mike Mommsen, 19, ended his freshman year at Middlebury College in Vermont on May 22. He packed his belongings and started pedaling west. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he concocted the idea a couple of months ago because on three of his last four flights home to St. Louis Park, the airlines lost his luggage. It was also the least expensive way to make the trip. Mommsen said it cost less than $125, which included a new bike tire, camping fees and food.
Mommsen was not exactly alone on his trip, however. His father and a family friend took turns biking behind Mommsen and driving the family van full of his gear and personal belongings.
The trio traveled about 100 miles a day, arriving in St. Louis Park on Saturday. Their longest day was the last – more than 12 hours and 165 miles. Although his dad and friend had encouraged Mommsen to make the ride, his father was clear about one thing when he told the Tribune: “He kind of tires me out. I thought he’d want to take a day off or something, but each day he wakes up and says, ‘Ah, well, I’m ready to go.’ ” The elder Mommsen, 49, said he probably biked 40 miles a day when not driving the family van.
According to Mommsen, this was not just about getting home the most inexpensive way, with his belongings intact, he also wanted to enjoy the ride. He told the Tribune that he decided to travel without listening to music. “I kind of got this Zen thing going on right now,” he said. “I think wearing an iPod would take away from the trip a little.” He also said the trip took him into areas of the United States and Canada he would not have otherwise seen, including five states and one Canadian province.
When the Tribune talked with Mommsen by phone during the trip, he said he was enjoying the ride, but was pretty tired. However, he added, “I was studying eight hours a day, so anything besides that seems great.”
Asked about any wild encounters along the way, Mommsen laughed about his experience with raccoons rummaging through his food at a Wisconsin campground. He told the Tribune: “I was just like, first, you’re taking our food, and now you’re keeping me awake.”
Lest anyone wonder about Mommsen’s equipment, the Tribune reports he was riding an ALAN racing bike. ALAN bikes are Italian-made and well-known in Europe, having been ridden in numerous road races, including the Tour de France, Giro d’ Italia and Vuelta de Espana.
“The Long Way Home: Biking — From Vermont,” by Mary Hudetz. Published 06/05/07. (http://www.startribune.com/1244/story/1226874.html)