People have been known to do some unusual things in preparation for a high school reunion.
Crazy diets, plastic surgery, and showing up in new sports cars are just a few.
But David Blair, 47, took it a step further. Or more like several miles. As in, about 2,581 of them.
Blair, a health and fitness teacher at Skyridge Middle School, rode from Everett, Wash., to Washington, D.C. in a “big reunion ride,” to celebrate his 30th high school reunion.
“I’d never been to one and thought it would be a fun way to show up,” he said. “Oddly enough, the reunion organizers ended up having it in October so I missed it, But I still did the ride.”
It wasn’t his first cross country trek. Blair and his family rode through the United States several times throughout the 1990s, and even led guided trips. “But it’s a little different doing it in your late 40s when compared with your late 20s and early 30s,” he said.
Blair rode 1,000 miles during the winter in preparation for the trip, which included several “century rides” along the way.
As the day for the big ride drew closer, Blair debated whether to tell his students at Skyridge Middle School.
“I’m kind of a private person so I wasn’t sure, but the few I told seemed really excited about it, so I created a Facebook page and got an iPhone a month before I left so I could do status updates from the road,” Blair said.
On June 22, he left Everett with fellow Skyridge teacher Rick Houston.
“I decided to bike Washington State as a milestone for me along with the challenge it brings,” Houston said. “The hardest part of the ride was the first day. We rode 106 miles over Stevens Pass. It was raining sideways and so cold. The rain had long since washed the oil from my chain and the energy from my body. However, the scenery coming into Leavenworth helped after the long day.”
The two rode an average of 85 miles for the next three days until they entered Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“I think about the trip often with all the open land, steep hills, and small communities we passed through,” Houston said. “I am trying to talk Dave into going from the top of Washington State to the bottom this summer.”
After Blair and Houston parted ways in Idaho, he rode solo for awhile then joined friends in Montana.
“That was my favorite part of the trip,” he said. “Especially the western part of the state. For the most part, I tried to stay off the highways whenever possible.”
All told, Blair traveled through 14 states, which included Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
While on the road, Blair subsisted on Subway sandwiches, Cliff Bars and bagels for his nourishment. But for encouragement, especially in the Midwest where temperatures soared into three digits, he gathered inspiration from his students.
“There was a point where I considered turning around and not finishing,” he said. “But I didn’t want to face the kids and have them think I was a big wimp.”
He posted to his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BigReunionRide, daily.
“It was hot, and I was thinking that I’d rather spend the rest of my summer on the West Coast where it was cool,” he said. “But the kids kept me going. They still talk about it.”
Besides the heat, Blair’s trip went relatively smoothly, so to speak.
“No cars ran me down, there were no dogs chasing me and I didn’t wreck,” he said.
His bike, a 1996 Trek, held up fine, without even a broken spoke, though Blair did encounter five flat tires.
“Overall, it was a pretty good trip.”
Blair is hoping to take some Skyridge students on a trek across Washington state either this summer or the next.
“I think it would really be a neat experience for them,” he said.
Houston said Blair’s trip was inspirational.
“What I think about Dave doing a ride of this magnitude it is incredible,” he said. “(He traveled) across America. It’s not like your local ride to the farmer’s market or a Sunday morning group ride. I had no doubts he could complete it, as he has rode across a couple times before. Dave has the experience of what it takes to stay focused, healthy and safe on those long days he endured.”