My bicycling beginnings were humble, as evidenced by my split times in my early triathlons (swim, bike, run). Among my triathlon peers, when I was first getting started, I was one of the strongest runners and one of the weakest cyclists. It took years of dedicated training for me to become a strong cyclist. After my junior year of high school, I spent a year in Denmark in Idrætsklassen (the Sports Class) at Rungsted Statsskole training with the top trainers and the top athletes my age. I enjoyed cycling 22 km, which is 14 miles, (or more) to and from school every day from where I was living with my host family in Humlebæk.
Towards the end of that year, Akiko, my girlfriend from Japan, asked me if I wanted to join her for a bicycle trip from where we were living (northeast Sjælland) to Lolland and Falster (islands to the south). I had a second host family on Lolland, and she had a second host family on Falster. I was shocked at her audacity. The distance was hundreds of kilometers. The thought in my mind was that it was not possible for anyone to ride a bicycle such a long distance. I tried to dissuade her from her crazy idea. She persisted that she was going to do it, with or without me. I was the macho US American boy. I couldn’t let her show me up. I figured that if she could do it, then I could, too. I told her yes. Thinking about the immensity of the proposed journey while riding home, I felt some trepidation, which transitioned into excitement for a grand adventure.