Amy Calder: A daily life-changing journey

Amy Calder: A daily life-changing journey

For decades, Jonathan McGonagle dreamed about bicycling across the U.S.

But in contrast to several of us who dream but never do, he jumped in.

Last 12 months when the coronavirus pandemic was in whole swing, he sprouted a approach.

Bicyclists Nicki Grisi, left, and Jonny McGonagle are revealed at the household of their host Paul Ureneck in Waterville on Wednesday. The adult men stayed with Ureneck right after biking 5,000 miles via 14 states. Wealthy Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Acquire this Photograph

“It was usually just sort of like a pipe dream and I explained, ‘No much better time than the current to do it,’” he recalled. “I’m a biker and I’d constantly viewed documentaries and study article content in National Geographic about it. It just really intrigued me. Last summer a lightbulb went off in my head. I was at work and I was like, ‘Man, I’m likely to bicycle throughout the country in the spring.’”

McGonagle, 36, was doing work in a cafe in Portland, in which he lives 50 % of the 12 months. He life in Mexico the other 6 months.

He headed to California and on March 2, he shoved off from San Diego on his 11-velocity mountain bike transformed into a touring bicycle. The day right before, fellow bicycle owner, Nick Grisi, 40, remaining San Diego on a 30-pace Cannondale touring bike and they fulfilled up in Arizona for the vacation east.

McGonagle and Grisi, a concession beverage salesman from Milltown, New Jersey, pedaled via wind, rain and snow, meeting other cyclists along the way who would journey with them for a while. At 1 stage the team numbered a dozen, ranging in age from 20 to 76.

They slept in tents, acquired foodstuff at out-of-the way gasoline stations and met plenty of people together their southern route, touring by way of New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Then McGonagle and Grisi headed up the east coastline to Maine.

1 day, Paul Ureneck of Waterville, acquired a concept from McGonagle, a longtime spouse and children mate, asking if he and Grisi could crash at his residence for a night. Ureneck oversees all downtown Waterville construction for Colby School, as director of commercial authentic estate for Elm Town LLC, an affiliate of Colby.

Bicyclists Nicki Grisi, still left, and Jonny McGonagle, right, are pictured with their host Paul Ureneck at his dwelling in Waterville on Wednesday. The gentlemen stayed with Ureneck following biking 5,000 miles by 14 states. Wealthy Abrahamson/Early morning Sentinel Purchase this Photograph

Ureneck experienced adopted bicyclists’ journey every day on line and he welcomed them with open arms.

They arrived in Waterville Tuesday night time following biking 5,000 miles and, immediately after a superior night’s snooze, informed their tale in Ureneck’s dwelling area Wednesday early morning.

“He’s like my hero,” Ureneck mentioned of McGonagle. “He essentially floats all-around the world in mega-yachts…He’s been all around the earth, gets good employment in eating places, producing some bucks, and then travels.”

McGonagle and Grisi biked an common of 80 miles a working day, encountering superior people and not so fantastic. Firefighters put them up and fed them at fireplace homes. A young lady in Louisiana who experienced small funds but had figured out about their trip on the internet, housed all 12 bikers one particular night.

“It was the working day prior to Easter,” McGonagle recalled. “We arrived at her property and she had a huge ham waiting around for us and two massive pitchers of iced tea.”

On a again street in Texas, a person driving a pickup with a trailer screamed at Grisi, called the bikers names and explained to them to go back in which they came from.

“Honestly, it was weird,” Grisi explained. “Otherwise, individuals had been commonly great.”

The cyclists carried their individual tire mend kits with spare tires and tubes. McGonagle went by 4 tires alongside the vacation.

There was hardly ever a time when they desired to give up, nevertheless 35- and 40-mph headwinds examined them. The crucial was to keep good, in accordance to McGonagle.

“You have to be adaptable to nearly anything that occurs,” he stated. “When traveling with individuals, you can’t have adverse strength — you are going to deliver the crew down and you should not do that. It was rather very good electrical power and everybody was cheering each and every other on for the most aspect.”

Bicyclists Jonny McGonagle, remaining, and Nick Grisi experience their bikes near the property of their host Paul Ureneck in Waterville on Wednesday. The gentlemen stayed with Ureneck soon after biking 5,000 miles by means of 14 states. Wealthy Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Get this Photo

Grisi lifted several 1000’s dollars alongside the vacation to donate to an animal rescue he and his girlfriend volunteer at in his hometown. He and McGonagle parted means Wednesday early morning following 80 days on the road collectively.

Grisi took off for Dedham to visit a farmer close friend ahead of pedaling again to New Jersey McGonagle headed to Sangerville to stop by his brother and household just before returning to Portland.

Their cross-place trip was existence-changing, in accordance to McGonagle.

“I uncovered to just hold moving ahead and progressing and be adaptable,” he explained. “Keeping a superior angle by means of the really crappy times really gets you much in existence. Enjoy issues, even when they are not enjoyable. It helps make the whole world this kind of a manageable and better put to be.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 many years. Her columns seem listed here Saturdays. She may well be reached at [email protected]. For past Reporting Aside columns, go to

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