Mike McGhee leaving on “Clara” for a ride around the country. Follow his progress at his blog, Singing Cyclist Circles the States.
It was raining lightly on January 1 when Jasper’s Mike McGhee got on Clara, his faithful recumbent bicycle, loaded down with all kinds of bulging bags plus a guitar strapped to the back.
I mentioned something about the poor cycling weather, McGhee replied that if he were worried about a little rain, he wouldn’t be doing this at all.
The morning was foggy so McGhee decided to switch that day’s route from Burnt Mountain Road to Cove Road. I mentioned something about all the Sunday morning traffic on Cove. McGhee replied that if he were worried about traffic he wouldn’t be leaving at all.
January 1 marked the first day of the longtime Jasper veterinarian’s (and former owner of Wayside Animal Clinic) plans to ride around the United States.
To make it clear, McGhee is not using the general term “ride around” to describe a vague trip.
The long-distance cyclist, who has already completed a ride across the United States coast to coast and quite a few other multi-day trips, has his sights set on a literal ride around the United States.
Starting from his house on Fox Run Lane, he will ride to Charleston where his daughter lives, then down the East Coast to Florida, cutting over from the Atlantic to the Gulf
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Coast, then all the way to San Diego, up to and into Canada, across to Maine, then back home.
The route will total somewhere over 12,000 miles and take about 11.5 months.
When looking at the inspiration for the long distance trip, McGhee said the most obvious answer is because he enjoys it.
“When I got through with the ride across America I didn’t want to quit,” he said. “Most of the other tours I have done end after two or three weeks. This way I just keep it from ending and by the time I get back, maybe I will want it to end.”
An Athens native, McGhee moved to Jasper in 1983 and began working at Wayside Animal Clinic. He eventually bought the practice entirely and operated it until 2009, when he sold it, but continued working there another year.
While he will be gone a whole year, Mike’s wife Jeri plans to meet him in several places, driving their RV to points that are nearby and then flying to some other arranged meeting points. Several long-distance cycling friends from around the country will meet him at different points to ride with him.
McGhee judged this latest adventure to be less grueling than a complete hike of the Appalachian Trail completed several years back.
“It will be much more fun [than the hike]. Riding a bike is fun and there is a shower at the end most nights. The deprivation level is not as extreme as on the trail.”
For logistics, McGhee plots routes about a week ahead on maps, arranging days where campsites, RV parks or hotels are available. He packs enough food for lunches and breakfast and keeps at least one emergency dinner in his bags in case he ends up somewhere with no facilities. His camping gear for the bike trip has been derived and tested from his experience as an ultra-light hiker.
And added component of the trip is a charity fund raiser for the Fender Music Foundation. McGhee, who seriously took up singing/songwriting after selling the animal clinic said he will play music most every night at campgrounds or wherever he happens to be for donations for the Fender Give Music Life efforts.
For a daily blog from Mike McGhee, see his Singing Cyclist Circles the States at https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/18866