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Redmond man celebrates retirement with cross-country bike ride to Miami

George Holroyd is all smiles as he
George Holroyd is all smiles as he's about to enter the state of Florida.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

For George Holroyd, biking used to be something he did when he was injured and had to take a break from running.

But as the Redmond resident has gotten older, he has biked more and more. And after Holroyd retired in February 2013 at 65 from a career as a project engineer at Phillips Ultrasound in Bothell, he planned and went on a cross-country bike ride from Redmond to Miami.

“Biking cross country is pretty common now,” he said. “It’d been in the back of my mind for some time.”

Holroyd, who grew up in Miami and is now 66, began his ride on Aug. 19, 2013. It took him 82 days and he arrived at his final destination on Dec. 10, 2013. He said he’d hoped to make the 4,656-mile ride in 60 days, but the time it took him was more realistic.

Sticking mostly to highways and back roads, Holroyd averaged about 60 miles per day. He rode through 15 states including Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. Most of the places along the route, Holroyd had never been to. He said one of his favorite states to ride through was Wyoming.

“I loved all of Wyoming,” he said. “Wyoming’s just a beautiful state.”

Other highlights from Holroyd’s ride included the cornfields in Nebraska, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the beaches in Florida.

Holroyd said he had planned to ride through Colorado, but the floods at the beginning of September forced him to rearrange his route.

“I would’ve loved to go through Colorado,” he said, adding that he would have enjoyed seeing the Rocky Mountains.

With all of the riding he would be doing, Holroyd, who had done various local rides including the 200-mile Seattle to Portland ride, had concerns about the physical aspect of the trip. This, however, turned out to be the easy part. His bike weighed about 100 pounds and so he was only able to ride 10-12 mph. His speed was closer to about four mph whenever he rode uphill.

One of the difficulties Holroyd faced throughout the ride was staying hydrated in 80-degree weather. He said having enough food to stay fueled for the rides was also a challenge.

“You’re always hungry because you’re burning a lot of calories,” he said.

Holroyd lost about 15 pounds on his ride, but he has since gained it back.

Whenever he stopped for the night, Holroyd would usually stop at a campsite and had a stove to cook his meals. He said some places he would stop at did not have any motels or other places to stay, but that did not bother him because he enjoyed meeting fellow campers, being outside and seeing the stars.

“My fondest memories are the camping,” he said. “I think you miss out if you don’t camp.”

During these camping stops, Holroyd would also call his wife to check in with her. If the campsites had wi-fi, they would use Face Time on their iPhones so Holroyd could speak to his wife face to face and show her what he was seeing.

Angela Holroyd was very supportive of her husband’s ride. As a nurse, she said she has met and treated people who are not able to fulfill their dreams due to health issues.

However, Angela, was concerned about George’s safety as he was riding cross country by himself. To help with this, they used the Life360 phone app to track where each other was.

“That helped tremendously,” said Angela. “I was really happy when he got to Florida.”

She also met her husband in Florida when he completed his ride. They spent a week in the Sunshine State visiting with family before flying north to New York to visit with their daughter.

Throughout his cross-country trip, George met people everywhere he went. He said when he met and chatted with locals, some of them would bring him food. In addition, he met a few other bicyclists along the way, though most of them were riding in the opposite direction. He also met five individuals who were walking across the country.

“People were impressed that I was biking across the country,” George said. “These guys were walking it.”

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