Dateline: June 30, 2016
An epic journey passed through the Peace Region last weekend. Bill Marcell began riding his bicycle from the southeast tip of the United States, Key West, Florida, northwest across the continent and coming through Dawson Creek on June 24 and Fort St. John on June 26. The nearly 10,000-kilometre ride is one-part dream fulfilment and one-part fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
"Riding the dangerous trails of Glacier Natonal Park was a thrill," Marcell said. "The scenery is incredible."
He rides between 100 and 125 kilometres a day, on average, stopping for bad weather or bicycle repairs. "I'm not a cyclist, I'm not a camper. I barely know how to change a tire," he said.
Though he's learning - he's had nine flats since starting his trek on April 4. "But that's the simple part. Then it's chains, cables. I'm pretty much working through the whole bike."
If he breaks down on the road, he'll hitchhike to the nearest repair shop, and then ride back to where he was picked up from to make sure he rides every mile, as he did when his bike chain broke leaving Dawson Creek.
Marcell plans to arrive at Prudhoe Bay, AK, on July 24 to dip his front tire in the Artic ocean. Follow his travels at keys2alaska.com
Dateline: April 8, 2016
Big Brothers Big Sisters supporter bikes his way from Florida to Alaska
By Jaycie Cheatham-Cundall email@example.com
PINEDALE- A man on a personal mission to raise funds for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is biking between two oceans, across 11 states, two countries and five time zones, but does not consider himself a “cyclist.” “I don’t know brands, or what the latest gear is, or how to work on the bikes much. I just ride for recreation,” said Bill Marcell of Excelsior Springs, MO. In April, Marcell decided to embark on a 6,200-mile bike ride from the Atlantic Ocean at Key West, FL, to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay, AK, just 250 miles from the Arctic Circle.
Marcell is a 62-year-old, retired IT man who is simply following a dream after 10 years of contemplation. “I wasn't sure when I would do it, and every year I kept thinking that perhaps next year would be the year. And another year would come. And another year would go… This is the year.”
To document his adventure Marcell hired a web designer to trace his route and add his journal entries and photos to his website – keys2alaska.com – where donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters can be made. So far Marcell’s cause has raised $350 for the organization.
“I chose Big Brothers Big Sisters because I used to work for Nerium International, the largest corporate donor to the organization.” Nerium International is a relationship marketing company that houses the scientific research and development of age-defying products. Marcell retired from the company a week before he began this journey.
Though Marcell is not advocating any monetary assistance for himself, there is also a tab on his site where contributions to his ride can be made. Throughout the trip Marcell has received help from family, friends, and strangers alike. He has been provided with places to stay, meals, cash, and even prayers for his safe travels.
Despite the cyclist suffering a flat tire on day one of his journey, he did not get discouraged. Now, 54 days into his journey and Marcell is still pedaling. Besides missing his loved ones back home, his biggest challenge so far has been equipment failure here and there with a total of six flats, two broken spokes, one wheel change, and an installment of a completely different gear cassette purposed for the more mountainous terrain of Wyoming.
Although it is advised for cyclists to have one day off for every seven riding days, Marcell hasn’t taken many rest days, until he hit the weather in Sublette County. He left Rock Springs on Sunday, but has since been rained in at the Sanddraw Station south of Boulder.
Marcell’s longest ride prior to this expedition was a mere 730 miles that he made back in 1985 from his home in Excelsior Springs to Northern Michigan. Like that trip, once Marcell arrives in Alaska he will pack up his bike and fly back home.
Marcell is equipped with survival gear including iodine tablets and a filtration device in case he needs to obtain drinking water from streams or other bodies of water. He also bought a brand new phone with the ability to take higher-resolution photos and downloaded an app that will serve as a GPS. Marcell also made sure to pack a whistle and a special bear repellant.
“If you have a fear of bears, do not watch “The Revenant” before you decide to ride through the wilderness,” advised Marcell.
The cyclist made sure that his route took him through Jackson Hole and Baniff, Canada in Alberta Province, two areas where he is most excited to witness the scenery. Once Marcell reaches the icy waters of the Alaskan bay, he doesn’t intend to only dip in his tire, but his entire body, by participating in a polar plunge.
Dateline: May 27, 2016
Excelsior Springs resident Bill Marcell could hardly wait to dip the front tire of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean. And then it would be time to pedal. And pedal and pedal and pedal.
In all, the 62-year-old retired IT man plans to pedal at least 6,200 miles – from the Fort Zachary Taylor Landing Point in Key West, Fla., to Prudhoe Bay, at the northern edge of Alaska.
When he reaches his destination, the plan is to dip his front tire into the Arctic, the second ocean on his journey. The bay is 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
“I said, ‘What’s the furthest I could ride a bicycle and that’s why I chose this route,” he said, just two days before flying south and then beginning the journey in Key West. “I’m not really a cyclist. I ride a bike, but the big thing is that it’s an adventure. I’m just a fanatic about scenery and I just want to see what’s around the next corner.”
There’s a personal mission to the trip, as well as a social one. Marcell has tagged the journey “Helping Big Brothers and Big Sisters” and is collecting donations for the organization at his web site, www.keys2alaska.com.
He’s not promoting assistance for himself, but he said he will accept gifts to help defray his own expenses.
Aside from the nine years in which his career took him to Atlanta, Ga., Marcell has lived in Excelsior Springs. A 1971 graduate of the high school, he’s helped raise two daughters and has a pair of grandchildren.
Marcell will trace his route and add journal entries and photos on his web site. He hired a webmaster to help post things the images and words he sends by phone.
The route will take him through the Grand Tetons, including Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellowstone Park, Missoula, Montana, and Baniff, Canada in Alberta Province.
Marcell is well-prepared, at least as prepared as a person can be who’s likely to encounter bears, elk and a moose or along the way.
He’s got special bear repellant, a new phone that takes higher-resolution photos, an app that will serve as a GPS, as well as an external speaker so he can listen to music while pedaling.
He’s also bringing iodine tablets and a filtration device in case he has to resort to drinking water from streams or other bodies of water.
“Water’s going to be very important on a trip like this,” said Marcell.
Marcell’s longest previous bicycle trip was a 730-mile jaunt he made in 1985 from Excelsior Springs to Northern Michigan with his wife at the time. They flew home from Michigan and Marcell, riding solo this time, will do the same from Alaska this time around.
He choose a northbound route for a couple of reasons. For one, Marcell said he wants to be in Alaska on July 24, the warmest day of the year there and at a time when there’s 24 hours of daylight.
And he wanted his final memories to be the pristine Alaskan landscape, not far more congested areas south of the border. “I didn’t want to ride through all that scenery and then get into all that traffic down here,” he said.
The plan is to camp in a tent most nights, then splurge on a motel from time to time and the comforts of a cushioned bed and hot shower.
He’ll carry some food on the bike, but also stop at restaurants along the way. He’s expecting to average 56 miles a day. “I’m guessing it will fluctuate between 40 and 200 miles,” Marcell said. “If the wind’s behind me, I’d like to do 200 miles one day.”
The decision to embark on a journey of this magnitude wasn’t made on the spur of the moment. Instead, it’s something he thought about but has put off. “I want to encourage other people to pursue a dream,” said Marcell, who recalls daydreaming “wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could do this? I just kept putting it off and finally I just drew a line in the sand and said this is it.”
Most of the roads he’ll travel will be paved, at least until he gets north of Fairbanks, Alaska heading to Prudeau Bay. Just a third of those will be hard-topped.
Marcell kept fit during his work career and continued his regimen of free and machine weights, a stationery bike and treadmill. “I haven’t missed a day of exercise, 30 minutes a day of aerobics, for 18 years,” he said.
The plan is to “graze” on energy-rich foods while pedaling and stay hydrated with water every 15 minutes. Once he reaches his destination, Marcell wants to do more than dip his front tire in the icy water of the Artic Ocean. “I plan to do the polar plunge when I get to Prudeau Bay,” he said.