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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow CYCLIST HUFFS, PUFFS OVER BLUES


On the road: Glen Hanket of Broomfield, Colo., talks at Willow Elementary School about a bicycle trip he is making from Astoria to Denver. The students shown are, clockwise from left, Shayla Powers, Chris Bray, Jordan VanLaarhoven and Shelby Walenta. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
On the road: Glen Hanket of Broomfield, Colo., talks at Willow Elementary School about a bicycle trip he is making from Astoria to Denver. The students shown are, clockwise from left, Shayla Powers, Chris Bray, Jordan VanLaarhoven and Shelby Walenta. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Cross country bicyclist Glen Hanket looked relieved during a stop late last week in La Grande — and for good reason.

Hanket had just completed one of the most difficult portions of his 1,400-mile bicycle journey from Astoria to Denver — the trek over the Blue Mountains from Pendleton.

"For five days, I fretted about this climb. For five days, I mentally gauged each hill I climbed, wondering if Cabbage Hill would be steeper...,'' Hanket wrote in his journal.

His worries about being ready were unfounded.

"Was I ever (ready). The tiger of a hill turned into a pussycat, and I powered up it with room to spare,'' said Hanket, who spoke at Willow Elementary School Friday.

Hanket is sharing his experiences with others as he bikes from Astoria to Denver. He is sharing something else during his journey — information on the evils of litter.

Hanket has had experience with litter control: About eight years ago he and his wife Sue picked up four tons of trash on the roads while walking from Maine to Astoria.

Hanket said that state governments spend millions of dollars annually to remove litter. He knows of instances in which parks have been closed because the cost of removing litter had taken so much from state budgets.

Hanket's book title, "Underwear by the Roadside," came from the fact that the couple found underwear by the roadside in every state except Kansas.

"Underwear," Hanket's ninth book, joins eight that he has written about bicycling in Colorado.

A computer software engineer, Hanket said that trekking cross country by bicycling or foot is not expensive.

"You don't have any gas or utility expenses. The only thing I have to buy is food,'' Hanket said.

Hanket and his wife Sue live in Broomfield, Colo. Sue is not accompanying her husband on this trip because of a back injury.

Hanket said that he and his wife lived austerely during their cross country walk eight years ago. They usually camped out instead of staying in motels. Sometimes they even camped in graveyards.

"Nobody bothered us when we camped in cemeteries,'' he said.

The Hankets often stayed in parks, using equipment like slides as makeshift furniture.

"A slide makes a great lounge chair,'' Hanket said.

During their journey the Hankets met numerous people and had opportunities to do things for the first time in their lives. In Maine they made maple syrup, in Illinois they milked cows and in Idaho they helped herd sheep. The Hankets came through Union County during their walk and made an unforgettable stop at the old Hot Lake Hotel.

"Its caretaker gave us a guided tour. It was one of the highlights of the trip,'' Hanket said.

Nothing compares to traveling by bicycle or on foot, he said.

"When you are walking or bicycling you are more aware of the world around you, you meet people that you wouldn't in a car,'' he said.

Hanket has met many generous people during his treks, sometimes too many. He recalled that the most difficult state to walk through was New Jersey, because every two or three miles people invited the Hankets to spend the night.

"It was hard to go quickly (through New Jersey),'' Hanket said.

Hanket said that his treks have helped him take a hard look at what is meaningful in life.

"It makes you examine your priorities. It makes you realize how much junk we surround ourselves with that is not important,'' he said.

The journal entries for Hanket's current tripcan be found on the Internet at Web site: www.bikepaths.com/speaker/school.html.

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