By Garrick Moritz, Faulk County Record
Jeff Conly of Fort Worth, Texas, has high ambitions. He wants to bike across the known world, and he’s starting with the 48 contiguous states.
“It started when I read a book called The Storms of My Grandchildren,” he said. “It’s all about the destructive effect that fossil fuels are having on the planet and what will become a global catastrophe if we don’t do something about it.”
So, Conly, backing up his convictions, wants to globe trot the planet using only manpower, and travel by bicycle over as much of the world as he can get to.
“I love to cycle, so I thought traveling the world without using any fossil fuels, that’s something I can do,” he said. “My plan is to make an environmentally friendly trip, and I wanted to start with the 48 states, then maybe down to Mexico and then South America. After that, I want to go north to Canada, then Alaska and then cross the Bering Strait into Russia, then onto China and beyond across Asia to Europe and then Africa. I have no doubt that this kind of trip will take me years to complete. I don’t know how much of it I will do in the end, but I’m going to take on as much as I can.”
And Conly is off to a great start, especially considering the fact that he’s willing to brave biking the Midwest in the dead of winter.
“No I’m not crazy,” he said. “I’m just trying to get home by April, so I’ll be back home in time to pay my taxes. Ha. I will admit that it can be hard to keep warm on certain days, and the key is to keep fueled up myself with hot food and as much rest as I can grab. I’m not a young man either, I’m 58 years old and I have kids that are all grown up now,” he said. “This trip for me, well in a way it’s like I’ve grown up again myself and on this trip I’ve truly found myself and began my life’s truly great adventure. I did my first 23 states in 93 days and I lost 37 pounds. I’ve never been in shape like this before in my life. I’m scrawny now, but my thighs are like iron.”
Conly said that he’s found welcome and support from people wherever he’s gone.
“Both the Dakota states were particularly nice,” he said. “I came in to Faulkton coming from the west on Highway 212. I met and spoke to folks at the J&J Bar, stayed at the Faulkton Inn and got coffee at BerMac’s. Then I went onward to Ipswich, and on the road to there I met Brad Paul and Jim Gabriel. Brad wanted to give me a lift, so initially I turned him down, but then he convinced me that I might enjoy some time out of the cold in a warm machine shed that wasn’t far away. So I made for it and met them all there and enjoyed a very excellent cup of Hutterite soup and a conversation with Brad, Jim and little Sawyer. I told them who I was and what I was doing, and we had a real nice time just getting to know each other. Sawyer was a real cool kid, and he, Brad and Jim really made my day, and encouraged me to push on. From there I went to Porky’s in Ipswich and then pushed onto Aberdeen.
Now I’m in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and I’m going next to Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and then Kansas on my way home. From there I’ll take a break from riding for a while and then see what the future has in store.”
Conly said that often folks have tried to give him cash as he goes along.
“I don’t like to refuse them, but though I’m far from being super rich, I’m not looking for sponsorship,” he said. “Instead, I’m getting myself a can and will put any and all donations people want to give me to 350.org.”
350 is the number of parts per million of CO2 that scientists agree is the minimum number needed to preserve our planet, whereas the current amount of CO2 in atmosphere is around 392 parts per million. 350 is a grassroots organization dedicated to the world to that number. Conly said that he will be checking back with the Record when he returns home from his 48 state trip to, “just let folks know that I made it home alright.”
For more about the things that inspired Conly to make this trip, see www.stormsofmygrandchildren.com and www.350.org.