Elliot Bourne, 72, leaves today on a 1,100-mile journey to Lubbock, Texas. Bourne is riding his bicycle - a trip he said should take him about two weeks.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Elliot Bourne, 72, leaves today on a 1,100-mile journey to Lubbock, Texas. Bourne is riding his bicycle - a trip he said should take him about two weeks.

72-year-old Craig resident moving to Texas - on his bike

Harnessing leg power

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Riding a bike alone through Colorado is difficult enough.

Try adding a tent, 20 to 30 pounds of clothes, five to 10 pounds of food and a few lifelong trinkets to the journey.

Design the trip so that the grueling stretch through the Colorado Mountains is only the beginning.

And, you have to be 72 years old.

At least that's what the soon-to-be-former Craig resident Elliot Bourne is doing.

It's not that Elliot is a health nut who dreams of winning the Tour de France.

Or that he's conditioning himself for the Olympics, or riding his bike for some charity.

He's simply moving.

You see, Elliot is what some call a wanderer.

He's a hard-working man who's traveled the country in search of odd jobs, not worried about settling down or raising a family.

Every now and then, he packs up his belongings and moves on.

Elliot came to Craig about "13 to 14 months ago," he says, and by accident no less.

"Actually, I was headed from Rifle and my car broke down," he said laughing. "I made it to the parking lot of the library, and that was when my car gave up the ghost."

After experimenting with another vehicle - and another failure - Elliot gave up on his motorized nemesis.

"Bicycles are a good means of transportation," he said. "Leg power don't cost nothing either."

He'd ridden bicycles since he was 10 years old in Elkins, W.Va., and it was something he enjoyed.

"You know what they say about riding a bike," Elliot declared, talking about the phrase in regards to never forgetting.

And if anyone knows about riding, it's Elliot.

He begins his 1,100-mile - and expected two-week - trek today, but although the mileage seems high to most, it's barely half the distance he rode once before.

"I've rode a bike much farther than that," he said. "In the '60s, I rode a bicycle all the way from Niagara Falls to Houston, Texas. That's about 1,900 miles.

"It took me about a month."

That said, Elliot is the first to admit times have changed - at least in the biking world.

"It was a lot harder back then because we didn't have the gears," he said. "Now-a-days, I can go into a low gear when I'm on a grade. Sometimes, I'm going slower than I can walk when I'm going through the mountains."

Elliot invested $619 in his 32-speed Raleigh Passage 5.5, complete with light aluminum frame, shocks, fancy new disc brakes and a plywood shelf he added to the back to carry his belongings.

"I go about 16-to-17 miles per hour," he said. "I'll go about 100 miles before I decide to stop. It should take me about two weeks."

The reason he chose Lubbock?

That's easy - there's a job waiting for him.

"I got a brother that lives outside Henderson," he said. "But, not nobody I know in Lubbock. I'm just going to work."

He's mapped his route, taking the hills and wind into consideration.

He believes he's fit enough, considering he lifts 15-pound weights and has worked in "hard labor jobs all my life."

And, he's not afraid of wild animals in the dark.

Just traffic.

"I will say it was safer traffic-wise to ride in the early days," he said. "I worry about all the cars on the road. You definitely have to be aware of traffic."

Elliot's job takes him through the winter.

When the summer comes, he said, it's back to Craig.

"I'm coming back in May," he said. "But, I don't think I'll be riding. Hopefully, my bike will be in the back of my truck."

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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