Dunster House Resident Dean Michael Uy arrived at the upperclassman house on his bike “Dragon” Saturday — after completing a 42-day, 13-state cross-country cycling trip.
The trip had been a long-term goal of Uy’s, though he had not previously been an avid cyclist. His work sabbatical this year provided him with the opportunity to bring the idea to fruition as his first long-distance cycling trip.
“It’s always been a dream of mine, almost a fantastical type of idea,” said Uy.
Uy left his parents’ house – and childhood home – in Orange County, California, on his birthday, Aug. 18. His parents, Abe and Julie, accompanied him for the first four days, providing extra rest stops as he traversed the mostly unpopulated Arizona desert.
The trip was physically and emotionally demanding, he said. He averaged between 80 and 100 miles each day across interstate highways and rocky trails, biking for up to twelve hours some days.
Family served as a big source of support for Uy on his journey, Uy said. His father even joined him by car for the second half of the journey.
“As I was saying goodbye to my dad on the fourth day — it was a really emotional day for me because it had been so challenging. He brought up this idea of possibly joining in Kansas City,” Uy said. “The nature of the trip changed and instead of just me biking across the country, it also became a father-son journey together.”
During the journey, Uy incorporated stops to visit friends in Cleveland, Ohio; his godson in Erie, Pennsylvania; and a Harvard alumnus in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I didn't realize how much it would mean to me to see him and to be with someone that I knew,” Uy said, referring to his visit in Albuquerque. “You come across a lot of strangers, but there's not quite that same familiarity or that comfort with seeing someone that you know. It was almost like he was kind of a guardian angel at the time.”
The trip did not come without its pitfalls. On various occasions, Uy was driven off the road by reckless drivers, he said.
“My main concerns before the trip were drivers, extreme weather, and injury. All of those things manifested at some point throughout the trip,” Uy said.
Though the trip was exceptionally difficult, he said, it proved to be rewarding and perspective-broadening as well.
“You do see so much more of those small towns than even if you were to drive through it,” Uy said. “You see the places that are thriving, you see the places that are not doing so well or have been abandoned and experiencing decline. That was all very eye-opening to me as I was going through the country.”
Asked about his takeaways from the trip, Uy said he was grateful that his yearslong dream was able to come true.
“If you have a goal, then prepare for it and do it, and then also be open to ways that the journey might change,” Uy said. “I'm incredibly grateful for having had that opportunity.”
—Staff Writer Darley A. C. Boit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.