Front Page News

Yesterday Matt and I were interviewed by the Warsaw Times-Union during our stay in Winona Lake.  Below is the article that appeared on the front page of the newspaper today:

8/3/2012 2:29:00 PMCalifornia Bicyclists Make Stop In Winona During 4,000-Mile Trek
Pictured (L to R with bicycles) are California bicyclists Chris Dittmore and Matt Swinnerton with their friends from California at Trailhouse Bike Shop in Winona Lake Thursday afternoon. Dittmore and Swinnerton are making a stop until Saturday in Winona Lake during their 4,000-mile bike trip from California to Boston. Their friends traveled to Indiana from California to cheer them on. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union.
Pictured (L to R with bicycles) are California bicyclists Chris Dittmore and Matt Swinnerton with their friends from California at Trailhouse Bike Shop in Winona Lake Thursday afternoon. Dittmore and Swinnerton are making a stop until Saturday in Winona Lake during their 4,000-mile bike trip from California to Boston. Their friends traveled to Indiana from California to cheer them on. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union.

 

Jennifer Peryam Times-Union Staff Writer
WINONA LAKE – California bicyclists and friends Chris Dittmore and Matt Swinnerton are making a stop in Winona Lake until Saturday during their 4,000-mile bike trip to Boston. They arrived in Winona Lake Wednesday, greeted by their friends from California who flew to Indiana to celebrate the bicycle journey. Dittmore and Swinnerton are staying at the home of John Stauffer, Winona Lake, when they will continue their journey to Boston. Dittmore, 52, and Swinnerton, 49, are friends of Lisa and Brad Blackwell, who all live in Danville, Calif. Lisa was born and raised in Winona Lake and Stauffer is her father. The idea of taking bicycles cross-country grew from a story Swinnerton, who comes from a cycling family, told Dittmore of when Swinnerton’s 59-year-old father made the trek east in 1994 from Astoria, Ore., to Boston with a few friends. “We will finish our journey in the same place my father finished,” Swinnerton said. “It has always been mine and Chris’s dream to make the journey but the motivation was my dad who has Parkinson’s disease.” Dittmore and Swinnerton are averaging 80 miles a day on their bicycles, and experienced a few flat tires along the way. “We have not had a physical or mechanical ailment yet that has caused a problem,” Dittmore said. Dittmore said motorists will honk and waive and that has been encouraging. “We haven’t been chased by a single dog out of all the farms we have bicycled past,” Swinnerton joked. The July 4 weekend in Indiana was more than 100 degrees, but at that time they were in Jackson Hole and it was 80 degrees. “We have been very blessed. Where we’ve gone, for whatever reason, we have hit areas where weather has been mild,” Dittmore said. They said they have avoided lightning, rain and they have not had circumstances of severe heat. To train for the journey they rode 150 to 250 miles a week, Swinnerton said. “This isn’t a competition, it’s a journey, and if we see a fun place to stop in we will stop and don’t worry about our the time it takes to get to Boston,” Dittmore said. Swinnerton said the route was set up around specific places they wanted to go. They started their two-month journey from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco June 21 and traveled through Lake Tahoe where California and Nevada meet, through Jackson, Hole, Wyo., and down to Iowa to do the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride that was 471 miles across Iowa.
Indiana is one of nine states they have traveled through including California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska. They will travel to Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and plan to reach Revere Beach in Boston, Mass., Aug. 19. When they arrive in Boston, Dittmore has a close friend who lives there who they will spend time with. “The tradition is when you do these things, to start with your back tire in the Pacific Ocean and we will put our front tire in the Atlantic Ocean,” Dittmore said. They will then fly home to California with their bicycles boxed up. Swinnerton said he and Dittmore have rode bikes together for the past 18 years. They have been friends since they met at a YMCA father-son program. They waited until their children got older and they were empty nested to make their dream of riding their bicycles coast to coast come true. “I had been thinking about riding my bike cross country ever since my dad did it and it has been on my bucket list for a very long time,” Swinnerton said. Dittmore said he is glad their dream of riding their bicycles cross country came true. “We looked at a calendar and started talking about when in our life this would work because we wanted to make sure we were young enough so we could enjoy the cycling and we settled on this year,” Dittmore said. They took time off work to do the bicycle ride.
The friends started planning for the trip five years ago. They mapped out their bike route a year ago. Dittmore said he has enjoyed visiting Winona Lake after they have spent the last two weeks bicycling through corn and soybean fields. “To come to an oasis of a lake and have our friends greeting us and enjoying the lake here has been great,” Dittmore said. Dittmore also enjoyed a stop in Amboy, Ill., where there is an old fashion soda fountain where they got milk shakes. Another stop was in Idaho where they toured a potato museum. “It’s those unplanned stops where we have stumbled across places that have made the trip what it is,” Dittmore said. They said the trip has brought them closer as friends. When they travel they stay at motels and book their hotels two to three days ahead of time. While they have traveled they have updated a blog to keep their families informed. People they don’t know have followed the blog as well. “One of the unique things about doing this journey on a bike is when you walk into a small town wearing bike gear, people are curious and we tell them we are riding across the country and they want to hear our story,” Swinnerton said.

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