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Kelso’s cross-country bike tour to end Saturday in Ocean City

(Aug. 30, 2013) A 23-year-old with a penchant for travel will end a two-month, cross-country bike trip in Ocean City on Saturday.

Alex Kelso couldn’t offer a precise reason why he decided to make the 53-day journey here from San Francisco, but decided to tackle 60-100 miles each day “just because it was there.” Along the way, he said, he met many people and has seen the United States “in a way most people never can.”

Before his tour across America, Kelso spent a year teaching English in Spain.

“I was just going to go back and get a job,” he said, “but it’s summer, I had some money, and this was the time to do it.”

He began researching his trip earlier this year, but said most of that research went out the window once he hit the road. After starting out on the Transamerica U.S. Bike Route 76, he met other bikers who shared their knowledge.

“You can read about it, you can hear stories, but you really don’t know what to expect until you get out here,” Kelso said.

One part of the plan stayed the same,  however: Kelso’s West-to-East route.

Originally from Philadelphia, “I wanted to do the West-to-East thing — come home,” he said. Starting in San Francisco July 9, he plans to dip his tire in the Atlantic Ocean at Ocean City when he arrives Saturday.

The trip has been rife with small challenges, from getting a flat tire in the middle of the Nevada desert to breaking two spokes in one day.

“There are a lot of thing that I had not planned for out here,” Kelso said, but passersby and fellow bikers have helped him with repairs.

The biggest hurdle, however, was “waking up every day and realizing that you have to bike 60 or 80 or 100 miles,” Kelso said.

Spending six to 10 hours alone biking each day was sometimes daunting, more so than the physical challenge of the trip, he said. Some highlights like passing Monarch Pass in Colorado — the continental divide — and crossing the Mississippi River back into the familiar territory of the East punctuated his travels.

Still, “little, small gestures have been the high points,” Kelso said. “A couple days ago, I broke two spokes in one day on my bike … I was going to call my cousin to help, and as I was sending the text message, two Spanish riders road up behind me and helped me change my spokes.”

Kelso has no plans after his return, but said he will look into a management trainee position he was offered after he graduated from the University of Richmond.

To anyone considering a similar trip, his advice was simply, “Go for it.”

“You see America in such a different way than I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

To retrace Kelso’s tour, visit http://trackmytour.com/ZxdQd#336682.

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