Last week, Colfax was home to an unexpected visitor. He wasn’t invited, but Brent Bundy received a warm Jasper County welcome as he biked into Colfax on June 18. Looking for a spot of grass to pitch his tent on, Bundy was welcomed into the home of Dennis and Barbara Lester.
Having covered more than 170 miles in three days, the man riding in on County Blacktop F48 was no casual biker, nor was he close to home.
Bundy is on his way back to Portland, Ore., from New York City, bicycling to raise awareness of breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. His route, taking him well over 3,000 miles of hard roads and mountain passes, is the same that he took six years ago when he went from Oregon to New York, biking for a different cause.
Bundy is biking in honor of his friend Gina, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.
The first time he made the trip, Bundy was raising awareness for Botox, the protein and neurotoxin best known for its use in plastic surgeries. Bundy wasn’t hoping to encourage nose-jobs or trying to stop wrinkling across the country though. Instead, he was raising awareness for one the chemical’s lesser known benefits.
According to Bundy, the name-brand cosmetic chemical helped him to regain his vision.
Now, six years later, Bundy flew himself and his bike back out to New York to make the return trip.
“It was something that I had been itching to do since I got back six years ago,” Bundy said. “I felt like I didn’t really finish my trip, and it wasn’t right … I needed to come back to be done with it.”
Bundy began his trek back from New York on Aug. 5, 2012. He was coming across the Midwest when he began to get the inclination that he would have to stop soon for winter. When he was near Le Claire, Iowa, the choice was taken from him as he was struck by a vehicle, taking him and his bike off the road over the winter while he recovered.
“Le Claire was good, unplanned and unexpected, but good,” Bundy said. “I got a job at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore there and healed up for a few months … the guys at the local bike shop really helped out a lot as well.”
With the gradual onset of Iowa’s warm season, Bundy started getting the itch to be back on the road, so on Sunday, Aug. 16, he said farewell to his temporary life in Le Claire and continued his journey westward.
His days on the road are fairly regimented, and he enjoys the routine that life settles into over time.
“In the morning, I’m meticulous … First I like to look at a map and plan the day’s route, then I spend a long time packing up and make sure that I’ve left nothing behind, because I can’t just turn around after an hour,” Bundy said. The cyclist doesn’t have much to abandon. He carries a few changes of light clothes, some rain gear, his tent, a sleeping bag and foam pad, toiletries and a DVD player. His bike usually weighs around 80 pounds loaded, depending on how much food or water he can take for the day.
After he is loaded up, he’ll start his day at a sub-sandwich shop if there is one around. He can eat half of the sub in the morning and save the other half for later, giving him a cost-effective carb boost to make it through the day.
He stops for a break around mid-day but never lets himself tarry long as it’ll lead to stiff muscles and deplete his motivation to make it to his end-day objective.
He likes to time it so he arrives at his destination around 4 p.m., and his first stop is usually the local fire department.
“Fire fighters, especially in small communities, are always going to be more friendly … It’s the best place to go, with the most helpful people around,” Bundy said. “I try to never ask for a place to camp. I show up and I tell my story, and the first person who invites me to camp, I’ll stay with.”
Once he’s secured lodging for the night, Bundy sets up his camp, takes a shower if there is one available, sometimes does some laundry and trades his stories for a warm meal in the fashion of travelers hundreds of years ago.
He likes to get to sleep at a reasonable time, usually between 7 and 8 p.m. if he can afford to. This keeps him well rested for when he wakes up in the morning to do it all over again.
Bundy will repeat this routine, day in and day out, 30 to 150 miles at a time, until he makes it back home. He plans to be in Portland on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. on the dot. He joked, “If it’s looking like it’ll be around noon, I’ll just stop and rest for an hour and then keep going.”
When he was asked what keeps him going each day, Bundy responded with a quote that he knows by heart, “‘Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all’ … That’s Helen Keller.”