John Barrette

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July 10, 2012
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For bicyclist, third visit to Carson City a charm

The high point of Jim Stewart's bicycle ride across the nation was topping Monarch Pass in Colorado, but the end point of his transcontinental trip was Carson City.

No big deal, you say? Consider that Stewart is 70 years old and he was camping when he wasn't pedaling. He remembers Carson City, he says, when it was a few blocks in the high desert.

He finished his third transcontinental trip by bike in Nevada's capital on Monday.

That high point on Monarch Pass was the trip's highlight, he said, in part because he was up 11,312 feet as he went over.

"It was nine miles from the RV Park I started at," he said, "and that took me six hours."

Stewart's third bike trip across the nation began May 2 in his current home state of South Carolina, and it wouldn't have taken so long had he not lollygagged a bit because he has time to spare.

For example, the retired electrical engineer from Kershaw, S.C., spent extra time in Lyon County.

"I stayed in Dayton two days just to use up time," he said.

His plan was to rent a car Monday afternoon, drive to Idaho to visit a relative, then drop back down to the Bay Area for a reunion.

Stewart, born in San Jose, Calif., graduated from Sunnyvale High School in 1960. He will be on hand for a reunion of school classmates turning 70 this year.

Other memorable places and people along his bike route include some desolate stretches, for which he had to plan, and some of the other biking folks he met.

In Utah, on Interstate 70, he saw a sign warning there were no services for the next 110 miles. Such stretches require planning so bikers have sufficient food and water - particularly water.

Eating 3,500 calories and drinking a gallon or more each day isn't unusual on such a trip, he said. Despite that, Stewart believes he lost weight on this trip. On his last transcontinental ride, in 2010, he lost 15 pounds. His first such ride was in 2007 - when he was only 65.

Stewart said he met some interesting solo bike riders as he crossed the country.

"I met a British guy - an around-the-worlder," he said. "One thing he said, which I didn't realize was that he spent a lot of time recuperating from illnesses."

Stewart seemed fascinated to see how Carson City had grown. He said it was about four years after his high school graduation that he came through Carson City, which then seemed like little more than a few blocks and really small for a state capital.

He said his trip in 2007 was from Portland, Ore., to South Carolina, and the one a couple of years ago went from San Diego to Florida, then up to South Carolina.

This trip didn't quite span the continent because he decided to skip the heat of California's Central Valley and the motor vehicle-clogged interstate roadway system in his native state.

This likely is his last long ride. Asked whether he was planning more, he replied: "No, the bike's going up in the attic when I get home."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 10, 2012 03:11AM Published Jul 10, 2012 03:02AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.