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Lodi Community Band’s Bobby Miner crosses country alone on bicycle

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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:13 am, Tue Aug 21, 2012.

Bobby Miner has many interests. He played on the golf team at Bear Creek High School, and he plays the flute with the Lodi Community Band.

But his greatest passion is riding his bicycle — the farther the better.

This year, he rode by himself from his North Stockton home and cruised the Southwest, Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, New England, two eastern Canadian provinces and Niagara Falls. Miner, 20, did all that between April 1 and June 21.

“I love to travel,” said Miner, who turned 20 on his trip.

Although he occasionally stayed in a motel and got some free lodging from people he met along the way, Miner said he spent most of his evenings in a tent.

The soft-spoken Miner got his inspiration from his grandfather, Ron Fuson, who lives near Lake Isabella in Kern County. Fuson rode cross country via bicycle when he was 55. Miner used Fuson’s bike on his own cross-country journey.

“He inspired me to go,” said Miner, a 2010 graduate of Bear Creek who now attends San Joaquin Delta College.

While Fuson’s trip 24 years ago ended up in Key West, Fla., Miner went a slightly different route this year. He biked through Highway 50 in rural Nevada, then south to the Grand Canyon and through El Paso and New Orleans to Jacksonville, Fla.

But instead of going south from Jacksonville, Miner biked the eastern seaboard to New York, Boston and Montreal. He then went through the province of Ontario until he reached Niagara Falls. He took a Greyhound bus from Buffalo, N.Y., to Stockton to end the trip.

It was Miner’s third long-distance bike ride. His first one was from San Francisco to Santa Barbara when he was 17. It was his Senior Project.

In the summer of 2011, Miner took a bus trip to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies before riding his bicycle to Vancouver and taking ferry boat rides to Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash. He then rode his bike south on Highway 101 along the Washington and Oregon coast back home.

Highlights from this year’s trip:

  • Enduring a late-season snowstorm near Eureka, Nev., where his gears froze.
  • A visit to some friends in Virginia.
  • Biking through a major flood in New Hampshire. It ruined all his electronic equipment, including his camera and laptop. He started going to a public library to use a computer.

He needed a computer because his mother, Vicki Miner, was worried about him, especially this year when he rode his bike alone.

“If I didn’t email her, she’d say, ‘Where are you?’” Miner said.

His mom said, “I was concerned about him going all by himself. I told him, ‘You need to email me every day.’”

However, Vicki Miner trusted her son and realized she needed to let him do what he wanted to do.

“I’ve got to put my fears aside and let him do it,” she said. “Look at all the wonderful things he’s been able to do. They round him out as a human being.”

Despite being alone, Bobby Miner wasn’t lonely. He enjoyed seeing different parts of the country and meeting so many nice people. Some gave him free lodging, and another biked with him for three days in Canada.

“What I liked in Canada was McDonald’s,” Miner said. “They had coffee — all you can drink. Muffins were only $1.”

He also looked for buffets so he could get the most for his money.

So what’s next for Miner?

He’s not sure, but next year he could end up in either Yellowstone National Park, Latin America or Southeast Asia.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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