A cross-country trip across the United States is a beautiful trip to take by any means, but it is especially remarkable to see the country go by at 12 miles an hour.

Ellensburg resident Dave Burfeind recently completed the feat on his own with nothing more than his trusty road bicycle and some camping gear. Burfeind, who manages the Lazy F Camp & Retreat Center in Manastash Canyon began his trip in May at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park and finished in August at Bar Harbor Maine.

Burfeind, who regularly bicycled in both high school and college began thinking about taking the trip in his late 20s, but after running the idea by his wife, Heather, they decided to take a six-week bicycle tour together instead that involved much less distance.

“I think the seeds were planted about 30 years ago,” he said. “Then I had kids, I had a job, didn’t ride a lot. Probably two or three years ago it kind of resurfaced, so I think it was on the back burner.”

Burfeind began training for the trip in January 2019. Although he enjoys riding, he emphasized that he is not an expert.

“I’m not one of those guys that rides 80 to 100 miles on a weekend day,” he said. “The most I rode before doing this trip was like 40 miles in a day while I was training. I think if you have a passion and you persevere, you push through the harder times, you can make it happen.”

As would be expected on a trip of this sort, Burfeind experienced various challenges along the route. He said one of the hardest stretches was bicycling through the Great Plains region.

“Just going from the Rockies to Minnesota,” he said. “It was about 1,000 miles and it was just really long and not too exciting. Not much going on.”

Burfeind also experienced inclement weather along the route, experiencing thunderstorms and headwinds.

“For three or four or five days in a row it was kind of really tough riding in not good conditions,” he said.

Most of the nights on his trip Burfeind camped in a small one-person tent, cooking meals on a small camp stove and grabbing lunches at grocery stores. Some nights he was able to spend under cover, staying with friends and relatives. He said the highlight of the trip was the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana. He met his brother in Kalispell and rode that stretch together.

“It was a 100-mile day in the beginning of June,” he said. “The road was closed to vehicles because they were still clearing the snow. It was just a perfect day. You could see the mountains and the snow was there. It was really awesome scenery.”

As he arrived in Bar Harbor, Burfeind said he began to reflect on the trip. He said he didn’t realize how it would feel to bicycle over 4,000 miles until he arrived at his destination, but as he arrived, he started thinking about all the people he met along the way. By utilizing social media, he was able to meet other bicyclists who joined him for stretches of his journey.

“Along the way I got feedback from people that it was inspiring for them to see me doing it,” he said. “It was kind of cool during the journey to have people going alongside with me and being inspired by what was happening. That wasn’t anything I was thinking would happen. Finishing up was a nice experience to put closure to that.”

Though he experienced challenges and the length of the trip was arduous, Burfeind said he is glad he embarked on the journey.

“Almost three months being away is a long time,” he said. “I think meeting the people and seeing the scenery was just great. I have no regrets of doing it, and it would be interesting to do it again on a different route.”

Along his travels, Burfeind met a man in Vermont who had taken roughly the same route as him approximately 20 years ago. The man, now in his 80s began to reflect on his fond memories of the trip to Burfeind, telling him the central thing he remembered from his trip was that we need to appreciate the generosity of strangers. Burfeind said he felt the same way about his interactions along the route.

“I had experienced that along the away of people just being really nice and being kind,” he said. “Just going out of their way to help me out. They didn’t have to do things they were doing, so he just kind of summed it up.”

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