Road-trip ‘apocalypse’: Dads, teens bike Seattle to Yarmouth in 57 days

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YARMOUTH — Talk about a summer vacation.

Friends and fellow bike enthusiasts Shawn Hunter, Erich Bohrmann and Jon “Hobbit” Holloway hit the road June 10 for a 3,900-mile bike trip from Seattle to Yarmouth with tablets, tents – and teens – in tow.

That’s right. They brought their teenage kids.

“We, the dads, believe there’s sort of this window (from age 15 to 17) where, physically, you can do just about anything,” Hunter said. “… (our kids) just didn’t think we’d actually do it.”

The trip, Holloway’s brainchild, began with a 2015 phone call.

“I thought, ‘You’re crazy,'” Hunter said, when Holloway suggested the ride. The last time the old friends planned a trip like this was in 1993, after graduating from St. Andrews University in North Carolina in ’91. But that trip was from Breckenridge, Colorado to Holloway’s home in Greenwood, South Carolina. More importantly, that trip was before they had full-time jobs and families.

“The concept was, we’ll do it again, but we’ll take our teenage kids,” Hunter said.

After wrapping his head around the idea, Hunter reached out to Bohrmann, to see if he and his two sons, Ian, 17, and Owen, 15, would like to join. Bohrmann and Hunter bike around town together often and Ian and Owen Bohrmann go to Yarmouth High School with Hunter’s 16-year-old, Ryan.

On June 8, Hunter, Bohrmann and their sons flew to Seattle to meet up with Holloway and his 17-year-old daughter, Annie. The team took a day to prepare and assemble their bikes, then began pedaling on June 10, starting their 57-day journey with a climb through the Cascades, just east of Seattle.

Along the way, they took breaks to camp, eat, and blog. Every few days, Hunter, who has published two books, would break out his tablet and Bluetooth keyboard to post trip anecdotes, keeping friends and family up to speed on the gang’s whereabouts.

As founder and president of MindScaling, a company whose mission is to make online learning content based on the work of bestselling authors, Hunter was able to work remotely throughout the trip. Holloway, a professor at Lander University, was on summer vacation. Bohrmann, however, resigned from his job as a physician’s assistant at Maine Medical Center after being denied a leave of absence for the ride.

“I was given a choice: either shorten the trip or lose the job,” Bohrmann said. “You’ll have many jobs, but only one life.”

As a single parent of two, Bohrmann is now exploring the next step in his career, but said he has no regrets and is in no rush.

“I just want to keep going,” he said. “There’s more to see and more people to meet with more stories to tell.”

According to Hunter and Bohrmann, their sons were far less enthusiastic about giving up their summer vacation to bike across the country with their dads.

“They loved the places we saw, but not the medium used to get there,” Bohrmann laughed, recalling his son, Owen, saying, “This trip is awesome, except for the biking.”

While the group gained stories and lifelong memories, they also lost something: weight. According to Hunter, he lost about 18 pounds, Holloway lost about 15, and Bohrmann took the cake, losing more than 20 pounds.

The team hit minor road bumps, with a couple crashes and a few busted tire tubes, but overall, with clear skies for all but a few hours, the trip was a success.

In an Aug. 8 interview, Bohrmann referenced the Greek meaning for the word “apocalypse,” which is an unfolding or revealing, to explain their trip.

“By the time we got to Eastern Montana and Wyoming, it was day-by-day,” Hunter said, but that was all part of the excitement. “… Many days we would intend a destination and not make it.”

They strayed from their mapped course, staying south of Lake Huron, rather than north, which would get them home about a day sooner and 50 miles closer than planned.

“By the time we got to Wisconsin, we were eager to get home,” Hunter said.

And after about 40 nights of camping and 18 nights of motels, the team finally did on Saturday, Aug. 5.

When asked how his sons felt now that they’re home, Bohrmann said, “Their relationship with the trip is going to change over time. It’s going to age and it’s going to get better.”

“Maybe (our kids) will be transformed, but there’s one thing that is absolutely true, and that’s that (the trip) was unforgettable,” Hunter added. “They’ll carry it with them for the rest of their life. What it means to them? That’s up to them.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Erich Bohrmann, left, Jon Holloway, Annie Holloway, Charlie Hunter, Owen Bohrmann, Shawn Hunter, and Ian Bohrmann returned home to Yarmouth on Aug. 5 after a 57-day cross-country bike ride from Seattle.

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