He stepped into the ocean, the cold seawater lapping around his feet. “It feels good, actually!” he said, as his wife, Christina, and their cheering friends and family surrounded him.
Harris, 50, had biked across the country once before, going east to west at age 25. But this trip was something special.
The journey is the culmination of half a decade of preparation and half a year of training. Six years ago, Harris became seriously ill and nearly died. He suffered three strokes and required heart surgery before he was finally discharged from the hospital. But he still had a bucket list, and that meant crossing America once again at age 50.
“I wasn’t sure if this body could ever complete the trip,” Harris said, “but I kind of wanted to see if I could.”
Working hard at their Choice Graphics printing shop in Rowley, the Harrises saved for years for the equipment, purchasing bike parts one by one and finding special bags that attach beside the wheel, said Christina Harris.
In January, Keith Harris began training with Latitudes Sports Club’s Pam Houck. It was both a physical and nutritional regimen: Harris lost over 30 pounds and dropped his cholesterol below 110 as winter turned to spring.
“I was riding in 40- to 45-degree temperatures,” he said. “I wanted the training to be harder than the ride ... I figured, ‘If my body can’t do it now, I’ll never be able to do it. Let’s go for it.’”
But even with the stamina to cross the continental states, he would need a place to stay every night. That’s where Rotary International stepped in. Harris is a longtime member of the humanitarian organization, and his contacts there proved invaluable.
Want to read Keith's amazing posts during his journey, visit his Pedaling for a Purpose Facebook page here!
Prepare for some inspirational stories from a once in a lifetime experience!