Glenwood resident cycles his way across America |

Glenwood resident cycles his way across America

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentKeith Giezentanner of Glenwood Springs is fulfilling his dream of cycling across the United States.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Keith Giezentanner enjoys cycling.

At 9 a.m. on Friday, April 30, Giezentanner dipped the rear wheel of his Trek 5200 bicycle into the Pacific Ocean at Harbor Vista, near Florence, Ore. Then, he saddled up, clipped his shoes into the bike pedals, and took off for Yorktown, Va., more than 4,000 miles to the east, where he plans on dipping his rear wheel into the Atlantic Ocean.

When you ask why he wanted to ride his bicycle across the United States, he says it’s because he’s always enjoyed riding his bike, and it’s always been a part of his life.

He’s sort of like the “Forrest Gump” of cycling.

“I’m just one of those people that never quit biking,” he said.

Giezentanner, 60, has looked forward to retirement for close to 33 years. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy his work as a wildlife biologist with the United States Forest Service, he was just looking forward to some traveling, and some cycling.

He first thought about doing a transcontinental bike ride in 1977, but he’d always planned on doing it when he retired so that he would have the time and convenience to take as long as needed to pedal his way across the country. After retiring in January 2009, he scheduled his ride for this summer.

“He’s always wanted to do it,” said Keith’s wife, Jan Giezentanner, who is also Keith’s support crew for his transcontinental trip. She drives the couple’s truck, fully-equipped with a camper and supplies for along the route.

“I wasn’t very good at driving this truck,” Jan admitted. “But, I am now.”

Even though the trip is something that Keith wanted to do, Jan has enjoyed it as well. She’s taken up bird watching, which she has a lot of time to do while waiting for Keith to catch up.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of his, so why not do what I can to make this happen, and make it a real memorable trip?” Jan said.

When you ask Keith how long the trip is going to take him, he says, “Until I’m done.”

He expects to be cycling for between 60 and 70 days. But as for the overall duration of the trip, may take a little longer.

“That’s what is nice about doing it this way, if I feel like taking a rest day, I can,” Keith said.

This type of trip is not new to Keith, having grown up riding his bike from his days in elementary school through his college years.

But his passion for cycling didn’t stop there. He often rode to and from work throughout his career, no matter where he lived. He’s also ridden in several multi-day cycling trips over the years as well; including two Oklahoma Freewheel Rides, six Ride the Rockies and 14-straight Bicycle Tour of Colorado trips. He also rode 650 miles from Santa Fe, N.M. to Norman, Okla. in 1977 for his 10-year high school reunion. Then, in 1987 he rode 833 miles in eight days from Glenwood Springs to Norman, Okla., for his 20-year high school reunion.

“[Cycling] has just always been a part of my life,” he said.

Since May 1, Keith has ridden 1,903 miles from Florence, Ore., to Frisco, Colo. He’s lost 11 pounds by burning an average of 3,500 calories per day. And he’s already worn out two rear tires.

Keith was at his Glenwood Springs home Tuesday, on a three-day break from his transcontinental trip – just to rest up before heading out on the road again.

He’s excited to begin this second part of the trip because he’s not seen much of the eastern U.S. before.

“That is one of the reasons I chose west to east,” he said. “Because I know the west.”

He wanted to save the excitement of exploring new places until the end of the trip.

“It should be much more stimulating for me,” he said.

The most enjoyable aspect of the trip, for Keith, is obviously the accomplishment of riding from coast to coast, but he said that visiting old friends has been an added bonus.

“Through my career with the forest service, I had people I’d worked with and friends I knew pretty much all over Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and we’ve gotten to spend time with a lot of really neat people during this trip,” he said. “Some of whom I haven’t seen for several years, so that’s been really enjoyable.”

But after he rides past Wichita, KS, he’ll be out of friends to stay with, he said.

“We have lots of friends out east,” he said. “We just haven’t met them yet.”

Keith woke up early on Thursday morning.

Jan drove him back to Frisco where he’ll saddle up and click his shoes into the bicycle pedals again. He’ll start the day by conquering Hoosier Pass to begin the second leg of his transcontinental journey.

“I just got to keep the rubber side down, and the spokes turning,” he said.

For Keith, it’s more about the trip than the destination.

Cycling is just a part of who Keith Giezentanner is.

Follow Keith Giezentanner on his transcontinental cycling trip on his blog:

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