Rifle man, 78, completes fourth bike ride across U.S. | PostIndependent.com

Rifle man, 78, completes fourth bike ride across U.S.

Ryan Hoffman
rhoffman@citizentelegram.com
Dave Sekeres, 78, holds up a shirt from his recent cross-country bike ride. It was his fourth ride across America.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

The notion of cycling across America inevitably draws an abbreviated question from some people.

Why?

For 78-year-old Dave Sekeres, of Rifle, the answer boils down to “pure enjoyment.”

“It’s been very satisfying to me. People say they get bored on long-distance rides. I never get bored because I’m always involved in either paying attention to what I’m doing technically or I’m looking at scenery or I’m doing something, but I’ve never quite understood being bored.”

Sekeres, a former physical education professor, recently returned from a 2½-month cross-country trip — his fourth bike ride across America — which originated in Seattle and ended in Washington, D.C.

With a group of about 12 cyclists from across the country ranging in age from 57 to 78 participating in the ride from start to finish, Sekeres was, as he said, the grandfather of the group. And he was also one of the fastest — a quality that earned him the nickname the invisible giant.

“I rode hard, like I always do. I don’t just cruise down the road. I always like to ride,” he said. “I wanted to be a legitimate part of the ride. And I think I can say in all honesty I was probably as strong or stronger than anyone on the ride, and that’s just an objective evaluation.”

Sekeres, who speaks with an elevated sense of excitement when discussing his cross-country rides, has had nearly a lifelong passion for tests of physical endurance, including hiking to the base camp of Mount Everest.

The last time he rode his bike across America was in 2000 at age 62. It was a much faster pace ride, covering 3,600 miles in 34 days. Even then, with most of the other riders in their 30s, Sekeres was the “older guy.”

“The comment I got often was I hope I can begin to do what you do when I reach your age,” he recalled.

One of the most challenging aspects of this recent journey, which averaged 60 miles of riding per day with three off days during the whole trip, was that it was too slow.

With the benefit of hindsight, Sekeres concluded he much prefers riding 80 to 100 miles per day.

“If I were to go again I would prefer a ride that’s shorter and longer, more time on the bike, because I like that. That’s the frosting on the cake, the time on the bike.”

That’s not to say the ride was not challenging, Sekeres said, adding he still feels tired several weeks after reaching Washington, D.C. He lost 17 pounds over the course of the ride, dropping him from his average weight of about 197 pounds to below 184 pounds, which was his weight when he graduated high school.

But outside the physicality of it all, the hardest part was being away from Sandy, his wife of 53 years, for so long.

“We’ve been married 53 years, and that was the longest we’d ever been apart,” he said.

To help alleviate those feelings, Sekeres consumed himself with the ride, holding true to the mantra of ride, eat, sleep, repeat. It helped, but by the end he was ready to return home to Rifle and to Sandy.

For that reason alone, Sekeres said he will pick a faster cross-country ride if he does another.

Listening to him speak about the future, though, the idea of another cross-country ride sounds less like a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”

“I don’t see this as a swan song, this last ride. I may go again,” he said. “I mean at this stage in the game … you sort of play it as it’s given to you, but I don’t see this as a golden spike sort of ride.”


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