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  • Writer's pictureMitch Metzger


Updated: Jun 14, 2018

HISTORICAL: This is a re-typed, digital copy of the original article from the October 30th, 1981 issue of my Central High School's Blue and Gold written by school newspaper writer, friend, and classmate: David Vilhauer. I was 17 years old at this writing. Thanks David for digging out this old archive for me.


Metzger wheels 4 days, 305 miles

Returning from a trans-continental bike marathon with a police escort and cheering fans. This vision raced through the mind of Mitch Metzger, Central senior, during the home stretch run of his SDEA solo bike trip.

In harsh reality he was coming home from a 305 mile journey and used a dream tactic to help pick up his stamina from Bath to Aberdeen.

When asked why he attempted this trip, Metzger pointed out the challenge involved and also said it was a stress-free hobby. “All my friends thought I was crazy for going, especially by myself. People laughed at Dale Carnegie too but that didn’t stop him,” stated Metzger.

“All my friends thought I was crazy for going, especially by myself. People laughed at Dale Carnegie too but that didn’t stop him,” stated Metzger.

Before he left, Metzger had utmost confidence and was very relaxed. He had no doubts in his mind about making it.

He left at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday and biked 80 miles to Roy Lake, where he stayed in the state park in his tent. Thursday, Metzger had a struggle on his hands. He managed to move on to Ortonville, Minn., despite inclement weather. He battled head winds and had to drive up hill. This prevented him from riding in the gear he wanted, which made him work twice as hard. Also he had to lean the bike to one side while riding to balance the bike’s weight distribution, which meant his right leg worked harder than his left, injuring his right knee.

Covering the 65 mile distance took him from eight in the morning until eight at night. He stressed the importance of weight distribution being exactly even on a long biking trip.

On Friday, Metzger used the aid of a tail wind to travel to Watertown in the rain. He went 55 miles and arrived there at 5:00pm. He decided to buy himself a knee brace for the next day’s long journey, the longest day of the four days. He noticed the batteries for the lights on his bike were dead and since the sporting goods stores were closed when he came, he couldn’t get new ones. That meant he had to make good time to get home before dark. Even though he had eight reflectors on his bike, he did not want to take a chance riding at night without lights. He stayed in motels both nights.

In the midst of “massive fog,” he left at 6:30am, Saturday but soon realized things would go his way. He explained Saturday as “perfect biking weather” and made a very good time. When he got to Bath, he stopped to get some energy to make it back to Aberdeen. It became evident that fatigue was catching up with him. He left forgetting his sun glasses and his wallet, needing a waitress to chase him down with the articles.

Metzger conquered his goal, thinking of the marathon when he reached Aberdeen at 3:30pm sooner than he had anticipated before his trip started. He consumed three gallons of water on Saturday to accomplish this feat.

He did not decide to go overnight. He had trained extensively and was very well prepared for his adventure. He biked 30 miles every day for two weeks previously and went out to Richmond Lake for a weekend, staying in his tent to see what he would encounter on his trip. He also planned his routes, diet and equipment well in advance.

His diet consisted of high calorie energy foods, including dehydrated bananas and apple, nature bars and snacks. He was on a 5,000 calorie a day diet.

For his equipment, he took along everything but the kitchen sink. He had a folding stove with cooking fuel and utensils, a first aid kit, wool clothing, rain gear, tent materials and two lights and eight reflectors on his bike. He also bought a Styrofoam pad for his handle bars to absorb shocks from the bike and wore biking gloves without finger holes to keep his hands from going to sleep.

His new $40 biking helmet, the newest designed helmet on the market, included a chamois on the inside to absorb perspiration from the forehead. Metzger added, “Your helmet is the most important safety feature you can have.”

“Your helmet is the most important safety feature you can have.” Metzger

Not satisfied with ordinary shoes either, he took a pair of rubber-soled football shoes and ground off the front cleats. Regular soft-soled shoes would buckle up and put more pressure and strain on his feet.

All of these items were not purchased just for this trip. Metzger goes to a church group bike journey every summer and does a lot of biking during the year.

He enjoys biking because, unlike most sports, you can go biking all by yourself, you don’t need a team or a group of people to do it. Metzger summed up his bike journey by saying, “The fun of biking is when you’re riding, not when you get to your destination.”

"The fun of biking is when you’re riding, not when you get to your destination.” Metzger

Mitch Metzger shows the equipment he used to complete his long bike trip.

My 1st "road worthy" bike was a Schwinn 10 speed in which I bought from my restaurant earnings for about $150 when I was 17 years old. I bought my first TREK nearly directly after this photo for about $750. This Schwinn became my "city commuting" bicycle. It was perfect for city commuting but a nightmare for long distance because of improper gearing ratios.

This is a scanned copy of the original article from the Central Blue and Gold school newspaper in October 1981

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