In 1984 my father began a pilgrimage, albeit unconventional. He was 47 and His mission was to visit the capitals of the lower 48 states on foot, starting in Illinois, where we lived, following a counter-clockwise roadmap of his own making. By age 72, he'd trekked to 23 capitals walking approximately 4,085 miles. Unfortunately, at 85, my father will not finish his quest. Therefore, I am assuming my father's mantle to complete the last 25 capital routes ––with a small tweak. I'm going forward by bike.
I was 14 when my father started his unusual pursuit, which made me an embarrassed and frustrated teenager. I had no idea what motivated my head-down midwestern engineer father to embark on such an unorthodox journey. I couldn't explain it to my friends, and I knew my father and I couldn't possibly share anything in common. But I am starting to believe I was wrong all along. Ironically, I grew up and undertook my own nomadic quest, quitting my IT analyst job at 36 to travel to over 65 countries and live as a digital nomad without a home for 11 years. I traveled and shared my journeys on my blog Ottsworld.com
During the pandemic, while I was unable to travel, I took up biking as a way to get out and explore my hometown and surroundings. I loved biking, and I spent every day I could on the trails. That's when I decided that I could finish my father's Capital quest by bike. Biking is faster than walking, but it's still not an easy task. My father still has 26 capital routes left that total approximately 8,000 miles; that's a lot of pedaling! And it goes over some pretty major mountain passes.
I'm starting this off in South Dakota this month. I'll be finishing a walk my father was midway through, going from St. Paul, MN to Pierre SD. My father who is still alive happens to live in South Dakota, so I'm excited for him to join me when I make it to the capital building in Pierre. Then I plan to go on cycling to Bismarck North Dakota. All in all it should be about 450 miles of pedaling.
This trip is not only a way for me to honor my father but to know him and, in doing so, learn more about myself. This adventure is a look at our relationships with our parents as we age, what drives us to leave home and how, paradoxically, leaving those we love can ultimately bring us closer together.
I'll be sharing this journey - all of the ups and downs - on my social media channels as well as writing about it on my blog. I hope you will follow along on my Facebook or Instagram stories as I post daily videos. I have no idea if I can do this or not as I've never really biked more than 60 miles in a day - but I'm going to try.
I hope you will follow along on this journey. This is the first of my many capital-to-capital bike tours. And if you are in the Dakotas and want to join me for part of the ride - I welcome you! I can use all of the encouragement I can get!