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Man sees 50 states from his bicycle

David Miller and his Weimaraner, Max, passed through Charles Town Thursday on his way to Berryville, Va.

November 01, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • David Miller and his pal Max, a 6-year-old Weimaraner, are shown during their 'Bike50at50' excursion. Miller passed through the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia on Thursday.
Submitted photo

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — When David Miller turned 50 on Oct. 30, 2011, he knew he wanted to do something different, something life-changing.

He found the answer in a bicycle, a map of the United States, a 6-year-old Weimaraner named Max, and a ride across the country that he called “Bike50at50.” A little more than a year later, Miller and Max ended a 15,000-mile bike ride that took them through the lower 48 states plus Alaska by ferryboat, and next week, without Max, a flight to Hawaii to make it an even 50.

On Thursday, Miller passed through Charles Town on his way to Berryville, Va., to log the 48th and 49th states of his itinerary.

Max wasn’t with him Thursday. “He stayed with a friend in Washington, D.C., because of the big storm,” Miller said.

“I usually only let Max walk about 20 percent of the time. Otherwise he rides in a trailer that I fixed up for him behind the bike,” Miller said. A second “cargo” trailer carried clothes, camping gear and dog food.

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When Miller returns from his brief stay in Hawaii, he’ll pick up Max and take a bus to Florida to visit his parents.

Miller grew up near Buffalo, N.Y., and ran a consulting business in the health club industry. He started his ride in San Diego where he was living at the time.

Finding places to stay on the trip never posed a problem, he said.

He often spent a night with members of The Warm Showers Community, a worldwide hospitality network for touring cyclists. According to its website, the free hospitality exchange provides lists of members willing to invite cyclists into their homes for a place to sleep, a shower and food. He said the whole trip cost less than $20,000.

Miller, a member of the network, said he offers the same hospitality to other distance bikers.

He also planned his itinerary to meet up with family and friends along the way, to camp out some and stay in cheap motels, he said.

One reason for the bike trip, he said, was to “find a home for myself, reconnect with family and friends and think about what I want to do next. I’ve spent most of the last 25 years in Nairobi, Paris and Mexico City,” he said.

“I have some money saved, but at some point I have to go back to work.”

He said the trip might help him decide where to settle down. Favorite places along the way were Alaska, Colorado, northern California and New York City.

He encourages people who follow his progress on his website, bike50at50.com, to consider making a donation to one of the four charities listed on the site.

Miller said he had a difficult moment on his third day out while going up a steep hill in California. “It was so windy that I was knocked off my bike and got banged up. It was a harrowing experience. I had not yet gained the confidence that I could do this,” he said.

He decided then and there that he would finish the journey. For the next year, he pedaled 15,000 miles dragging Max and the cargo trailer behind him.

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