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Dick Burwell


BAT 98 – "El Niño"
Day by Day:

Date - Departure City - Miles

  • 5/19 - Everett, WA - 51
  • 5/20 - Skyomish, WA - 54
  • 5/21 - Leavenworth, WA - 83
  • 5/22 - Coulee City, WA - 61
  • 5/23 - Davenport, WA - 62
  • 5/24 - Deer Park, WA - 72
  • 5/25 - Rest Day - 0
  • 5/26 - Sandpoint, ID - 100
  • 5/27 - Libby, MT - 95
  • 5/28 - Kalispell, MT - 91
  • 5/29 - Seeley Lake, MT - 110
  • 5/30 - Helena, MT - 105
  • 5/31 - Bozeman, MT - 88
  • 6/1 - Rest Day - 0
  • 6/2 - Gardiner, MT - 60
  • 6/3 - Cooke City, MT - 80
  • 6/4 - Cody, WY - 73
  • 6/5 - Five Springs, WY - 78
  • 6/6 - Sheridan, WY - 112
  • 6/7 - Rest Day - 0
  • 6/8 - Gillette, WY - 115
  • 6/9 - Custer, SD - 43
  • 6/10 - Rapid City, SD - 100
  • 6/11 - Badlands, SD - 75
  • 6/12 - White River, SD - 94
  • 6/13 - Burke, SD - 77
  • 6/14 - Rest Day - 0
  • 6/15 - Niobrara, NE - 81
  • 6/16 - Ponca, NE - 110
  • 6/17 - Lakeview, IA - 81
  • 6/18 - Story City, IA - 87
  • 6/19 - Vinton, IA - 52
  • 6/20 - Anamosa, IA - 87
  • 6/21 - Rest Day - 0
  • 6/22 - Morrison, IL - 87
  • 6/23 - Utica, IL - 68
  • 6/24 - Kankakee, IL - 80
  • 6/25 - Winamac, IN - 75
  • 6/26 - Huntington, IN - 86
  • 6/27 - Wapakoneta, OH - 85
  • 6/28 - Rest Day - 0
  • 6/29 - Mt. Gilead, OH - 75
  • 6/30 - Sugar Creek, OH - 110
  • 7/1 - Washington, PA - 101
  • 7/2 - New Germany, MD - 60
  • 7/3 - Paw Paw, WV - 60
  • 7/4 - Bluemont, VA - 60

...finishing in Washington DC on the steps of the US Capitol Building.

Week-by-week summary:

  • Week 1 - Everett, WA to Sand Point, ID
    May 19-25; 383 miles
  • Week 2 - Sand Point to Gardner, MT
    May 26-June 1; 589 miles
  • Week 3 - Gardner to Gillette, WY
    June 2-7; 403 miles
  • Week 4 - Gillette to Niobrara, NE
    June 8-14; 504 miles
  • Week 5 - Niobrara to Morrison, IL
    June 15-21; 498 miles
  • Week 6 - Morrison to Mt. Gilead, OH
    June 22-28; 481 miles
  • Week 7 - Mt. Gilead to Washington, DC
    June 29-July 4 (Capitol fireworks!); 466 miles








Bike America Tours (BAT)
1998 Cross-Country Bicycle Ride
Everett, WA to Washington DC
(~3,300 miles)

My ride across the country and this web page are dedicated to my fellow rider and ALS victim, the late, great Dick Burwell.

Thanks for visiting. Ride on!
Dan Goese



"BAT 98" was a guided bicycle tour that started in Everett, Washington on May 19th and finished with a grand finale on July 4th in Washington, DC. The ride is organized by David Blair, the founder of Bike America Tours (thus the "B.A.T.") The BAT tour is a series of seven, 1-week bike rides. I'm one of the seven riders who participated in the full coast-to-coast ride, and this is my summary of the experience, for the benefit of my family, friends, and anyone considering such a ride.

Every once in a while, what seems like a crazy idea turns into a wonderful, unforgettable experience. Such is the case for my 1998 bicycle ride from coast to coast. I joined a small team of people who had the same crazy idea in Everett, Washington. We were led by the fearless bear of a man named Dave Blair...

His dad, Chuck Blair also helped lug our stuff so we could ride "untethered" across this great country. This page includes a small sampling of the pictures from that ride.

David Blair



David Blair, the founder and active organizer of Bike America Tours, has to be one of the nicest, most laid-back humans I've ever met. When you're traveling together for seven weeks, the kind of people you're with is crucial. Dave set the tone for the tour, and the riders caught on. Dave didn't ride much with us, but provided logistical and moral support along with his parents (Joann and Chuck), and friend (Aaron Huether). His wife (Bernie) joined us briefly, but spent most of the time back at the "BAT Cave" in Billings, where she could provide internet updates (see and maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle. The BAT team provided breakfast, dinner, navigational guidance and tag-team support every day.

Chuck Blair



Each of the riders added a special dimension to the ride. The riders came from various parts of the U.S. and a variety of professional backgrounds. For seven weeks we became a family, if not a traveling circus. For such a broad spectrum of personality types, we all managed to get along quite well.

On some days, there were over a dozen riders participating in BAT 98. Not everyone could get away for the full seven weeks, and one rider (Bill Burwell) needed to quit due to the aggravation of a pre-existing back condition, so only seven riders completed the full tour. Two of the seven are women. The small number of riders allowed a simple, personal atmosphere throughout the ride.

Here's a list of the riders; those in bold made it from coast to coast:

  • Wendy Abbott, Rochester, New York
  • Allen Boeker, Bellevue, Washington
  • Bill Burwell, Kirkland, Washington
  • Dick Burwell, Bellevue, Washington
  • Beth Byrd, Brooklyn, New York
  • Tom Cherry, Bellevue, Washington
  • Todd Crouse, Angelfire, New Mexico
  • Kent Gatling, Bennington, Vermont
  • Dan Goese, La Jolla, California
  • Ed Hegarty, Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • Bill Hodgson, Bellevue, Washington
  • Ken Iobst, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • John Robinson, Bellevue, Washington
  • Bruce Thompson, Golden, Colorado
  • Jack Turner, Superior, Colorado
  • Dave Wallace, Sugarcreek, Ohio

Our humble beginnings in Everett Washington. (Compare this to the fanfare on the Capitol steps in Washington, DC almost seven weeks later!)


The open road, no cars...a cyclist's paradise.





The sounds were as spectacular as the sites. The thousands of birds calling from within the bushes of this plain enhanced our exercise endorphin-induced euphoria.

"Big-Ass" Trees (the latin term, I guess.)

  Whatever the reason for the trek, I know there are some tremendously positive side-effects. The emotional and physical highs linger for quite some time. There's no question about it - this bike ride was an incredible adventure. How could one pedal a bicycle from Everett, Washington to Washington, DC without encountering SOME adventure? Even some individual day rides were awesome adventures, thanks to the crazy weather and other riders on the tour. I did things I've never done before, and I recommend them all to anyone lured to "seize the day."


  • Put two wheels on your lawn chair (roughly equivalent to my recumbent bicycle), go to the top of a 9,400-foot pass in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming, wait for a blowing snowstorm to come along, then ride through the storm at 40 MPH. Ignore the frostbite that's going to develop on your thumbs…this is too fun to stop! Six Flags/Magic Mountain can't compare to this.
  • Watch the weather reports in Iowa. When it appears that the mother of all tornado-laden thunderstorms is coming, hop on your bike and ride the front of the storm as long as you can. Laugh insanely as the black clouds and 65 MPH tailwinds push you and torrential rains down the road while all the motorists pull off to the side. Watch for the tornado that will touch down in the city you'd be in if you hadn't dawdled at lunch for so long. (That day held the most exhilarating bike ride I've ever had…and I've been on some pretty wild mountain bike rides. Beth Bird asked Todd Crouse during the deluge, "Are we going to die?")
  • Pick a hill that looks steep enough and long enough to show you how fast 55 MPH feels on a 20-pound bicycle. Say a prayer no matter how nonreligious you are. If a big truck passes you by, get right behind it because that may be the only way you'll break 60 MPH. Watch for brake lights and bumps in the road.


  • Make sure you have lots of peanut/chocolate dessert before retiring to your tent in a remote camping area known for its grizzly bears. This will assure a strong enough scent that says "Yes, I'm edible!" to the bears, even through your tent wall. When you wake up because your cheap tent's walls are caving in on your face under the unseasonably deep overnight snow fall, wave your arms frantically so that if it is a bear, the bear will know exactly where to bite first.
  • When you're riding down the steep continental divide in the rain, be sure to pass a motor home or car--the driver of which thought he was going the fastest safe speed--just to assure them that you really are out of your mind.

These were some of the nuttier experiences for me in BAT 98. Of course the weather did clear up from time to time, and we had majestic rides with post-card perfect views of the mountains and plains. But I expected the sunny afternoon rides. I really thrive on surprises and the unexpected, and this trip provided an abundance of surprises.

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This market in Swan Village, MT has everything you need...gas, food, even the post office.

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The Swan Mountain range must be one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in our country.

  The riders' ages ranged from 24 to 61. The speed and durability of the riders clearly doesn't falter with age. Sixty-one-year-old "Steady Eddie" - a.k.a. Captain Hegarty, Fast Eddie, Mr. Ed - was one of the strongest riders from start to finish. Both he and Kent Gatling (age 49) had clearly done a better job of preparing for the ride than I had. Even 55-year-old Dick Burwell, a Boeing rocket scientist suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease (a.k.a. ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), made the whole ride. See here for more details on the riders. Like most sites managed by people who prefer to be out in nature, it's not necessarily up to date, but should be checked for newly-planned rides.

Dick Burwell's escorts were the best bunch of guys you could ask for on a cross-country tour.



The typical day started - as it does for most members of the animal kingdom - with a trip to the restroom. Depending on the day, that could be as simple as a walk into the hotel room's bathroom, or as tedious as finding the outhouse in the snow. (Fortunately I visited a lot more hotels than snowy outhouses.) Since it rained a bit along the way, we often had to roll wet tents up and hope to dry them out later at that day's destination. Anytime it rained two days in a row, several of us started asking about local hotel accommodations. The hotel rooms made nice tent-drying facilities.

Dan Goese at the continental divide.

  Either before or after packing our stuff up, we'd enjoy the continental breakfast provided by the BAT crew. Hot breakfasts were frequently prepared, especially in the cold, early part of the trip. If the weather or bugs were miserable, we'd slam breakfast down to get moving. After stuffing our faces and the U-Haul trailer with our gear, we'd do a navigational check with big Dave and hop on the bikes. At times we'd have to mark up our maps (provided by Ken Iobst), but usually the navigation was quite simple. We hardly ever took off as a single group. Some people are more morning-compatible than others. Either in groups or individually, we'd take off for the first 25 or 30 miles before meeting up at our first pig-out spot.

Hey Ed...where the heck is this? It's incredible and it's on the same day we passed through "Wall Drug."

  With the ride, we all engaged in a special diet: We increased the amount of food we ate at each meal, we ate more meals each day, and we ate dessert after every meal. No matter how much weight we may have lost during the trip, we all ate massive quantities of food. We rarely passed an ice cream parlor without stopping, no matter what time of day it was. Vegetarians temporarily excused themselves from the fur-hating crowd and ate huge quantities of meat. We were all a little nervous about whether the torrential eating habits would continue after the ride. If they did, we'd all gain about 200 pounds in our first month after the ride. Actually, Kent would only gain about 50 pounds, since he rides 12,000 miles a year anyway.

Dan Goese feeling on top of the world...a life of riding has that kind of effect.

  No two days were the same. Yes, there's a lot of corn in the Midwest, but each day really was very different. Changes in the ride's distance, terrain, weather, roads, towns, tourist sites, and events made every day a unique experience. I have an extensive photo album with pictures of so many of the sites and scenes. With several years of tour-guiding under his belt, Dave Blair knew where to find the good sites. We camped in some beautiful riverside and waterfront campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest. In a couple towns, Dave's friends hosted us at their homes. (We hosted a ride stop at our house when Bike America Tours did the west coast Vancouver/Tijuana tour in the fall of 1999.)
  I really got a dose of rural America and Americana along the away. I probably ate at more quaint, mom-and-pop diners on this trip than I had in my entire lifetime. I met all kinds of people at the bars and diners along the way, and most of them were very kind. Even Ernie the pig, who milled around the floor of one diner to beg for scraps, was pretty friendly for a 900-pound beast. We did the tourist thing at places like Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Wall Drug, and Devil's Tower. We saw more snow-capped mountains than ever before. Every day was new and different. I never got bored.


I really had no idea what to expect of the ride. I didn't know what the typical day would be like. I couldn't predict whether or not I would come back with a different perspective on life. Most of the ride was considerably more meditative than a day in the office, so I thought I might come back with better explanations for the meaning of life.


The truth is, I don't think the ride had any radical effect on my brain.

  • The ride meant a lot to me.
  • It was an unforgettable adventure and an incredible accomplishment.
  • I like the people I rode with.
  • I got a great family vacation out of the last couple weeks.
  • I feel a lot more relaxed - both physically and psychologically - than I did before the ride.
  • Compared to the pre-ride Dan, I am definitely at peace.

But it really was just a long bike ride.

  It was only about 3,000 miles longer than my typical ride, but I'm so thankful that those extra miles brought me, the other riders, and my family together for a rare and unique celebration of our brief lives and this great country.
  f you're thinking of doing something like this ride…and you can do it, then you must.
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The final week was the most emotional one for most of the riders. Everyone had to prepare to go back to reality. We had become accustomed to just waking up, eating, and wandering off on our bikes. Life was simple, if not easy. But as the trip wrapped up, things got more complicated every day. The east coast is more crowded, and our meandering route got trickier as we tried to minimize our exposure to traffic. The C&O and W&OD trails gave us a final glimpse of rural cycling.

  On our final day, it almost seemed like we wouldn't make it to the Capitol steps. We had another bike wreck, and as many flats as we typically had in a week. When we got into DC, we found ourselves coming head-to-head with a parade. It was pretty comical with the marching bands and Hare Krishna seemingly keeping us from getting to our final destination at the Capitol steps. Of course, the police didn't like us riding the wrong way in a parade, so we had to stop and walk for a while. But after 3,000 miles and 41 days of riding, we weren't easily stopped.
  Against all odds, we made it in plenty of time for dinner and fireworks. We met a warm round of applause from friends and family at the steps. Even the crowds gathering for the fireworks who had no clue who we were applauded our arrival. My extended family - even friends of my parents - were there with an illegally-posted banner across the Capitol steps and Independence Day decorations to wear. There were lots of hugs to go around. The cops weren't exactly hugging anyone, but they turned their backs on the banner long enough for us to take pictures.
  Somehow my body knew the ride was over. That night, my left knee swelled up and I could barely bend my leg. I have no idea why it did that, after being so strong the last couple weeks of the ride. It didn't matter. I had finished the ride and my one prayer was answered: "Please let me make it through this ride alive…and for extra credit, in good health."

We finally see some of the great monuments of our capitol.

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Dan Goese & Ed Hegarty. Ed's looking very "buff" for a 60-year-old man...that's what cycling can do for you!

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Dan & the kids having some fun in the pool at the monastery.



Dan Goese on his trusty Trek 1200 near the end of the ride.


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Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the ride.

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