For 19-year-old Greg Merkel, it was time to try something extraordinary. Merkel, a 2008 Edmond Memorial graduate, said a story in The Oklahoman about an Edmond boy riding his bike across the country inspired him to ride to California. "He had no doubt in his mind that he could do this,” said his mother, Mireille Merkel. "Both his dad and I thought this was not a good idea. We were hoping after a certain amount of time he would change his mind.” "I knew it might be hard but I wanted to try it anyway,” Greg Merkel said. On Sept. 30, he set out alone for Santa Monica, Calif. On the second day of his trip he met a German man who had been following Route 66 since he left Chicago days before. The two rode together from Clinton to the end of their destination. The pair set a goal of riding to a new town each day but encountered problems with the weather in New Mexico. "The hardest day was going up to Santa Fe which was uphill,” Merkel said. "I don’t know how high the winds were, but we had to peddle going downhill.” While returning from the annual balloon festival in Albuquerque, N.M., Merkel’s parents met him along the road. "If he looks bad, that’s it,” his mother said. "I’m putting him in the truck. But he looked awesome.” Merkel returned home on a train after riding his bike 1,795 miles. He said he would like to attempt a cross-country journey again. "I think it’s the best way to travel. You’re exercising constantly; you’re seeing different places, and you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight,” he said.
I think it’s the best way to travel. You’re exercising constantly; you’re seeing different places, and you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.”