Penn High School teacher returns home after 3,000 mile bike trip

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A 50-year-old cyclist made his way back to his hometown of Mishawaka after pedaling 3,000 miles across the U.S.

The coast-to-coast, 11-day, eight hour and 52-minute bike ride was something that cyclist and Penn High School building trades teacher Les Crook had on his mind for a while. It’s part of the annual Race Across America that took him across the continental United States on a 20-year-old used bicycle. 33 other racers from around the world also took part in the race, some racing in teams and all cycling on their own pace with support teams.

While the trip isn’t your typical bike ride around the block, it’s a task that requires a strict diet and months of training. It took Crook two years to train for the event.

Crooks says the most important part of staying energized on the road is diet and sleep. His diet often consisted of liquids such as smoothies and three hours of sleep each night.

“Nutrition is the biggest thing I think one of the number one things that takes a rider out is the poor nutrition,” explained Crooks. “I have a nutrition it’s a liquid diet. So, the first three days, we knew it was going to be hot. I did liquid nutrition for the first three days total. We got over the Rockies, I started to cool down a little bit. started introducing some more solid foods.”

Crooks started his journey on June 14 from Oceanside, California, made his way through the Rockies and up the Appalachians. He eventually made it to the finish line in Annapolis, Maryland on June 25.

Along the way, Crooks had a support team made up of 13 people including his wife and kids.

There were some bumps in the road like when the wheel bearings on his support team’s RV wore out, leaving the team stranded. Eventually through some handy work, Crook’s son was able to get the camper back on the road.

For Crooks, the western heat was almost unbearable.

“The first day was about 105 to 110 degrees. Day two when you’re going out through the desert in California and into Arizona, the temperatures said 117 but the computer on my bike said 125,” said Crooks. “It’s just intensely hot.”

Crooks usually kept himself busy with podcasts, Facebook lives and phone calls. He also says he has no special warm up ritual; in fact, he doesn’t really stretch. He just gets on his bike and goes.

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