We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Donald Kerwin Lives! Cyclist on Minn-Ariz Trip Reaches Lake Herman

Donald Kerwin of Akeley, MN, on Saturday, April 11, south edge of Madison, SD, at mile 350 of his 2000-mile trip from Akeley, MN, to Apache Junction, AZ. 17% of the way there!
I've ridden to work a few times this year, but yesterday was the first day I went for a recreational ride. Just the standard 20-mile jaunt around the lake and in to town—nothing like Biking Brady's 75-mile Good Friday ride (good Friday indeed!)...

...and nothing like Donald Kerwin's 50-mile trek from Pipestone to Lake Herman, just another chunk of his roughly 2000-mile trek from his hometown of Akeley, Minnesota, to Apache Junction, just shy of Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona.

I was biking along the Highway 34 bypass when I saw a fellow heading west. As a bike guy accustomed to bike shorts and other fancy cycling duds, I thought the oncoming cyclist looked rather casually dressed for a long ride, but when I see that much gear on a bike, either Dick Wiedenman's cleaning out his garage, or something else interesting is going on.

As we approached, the rider shouted, "State park this way?" That told me visitor in new territory. I swung around, he stopped, and we talked. Donald Kerwin is his name. He's on his own, no sag wagon or fellow cyclists. Between jobs, Donald thought he'd try raising some money for some hometown programs by going on a bike ride... a long bike ride. So he got the bike shop in Park Rapids, Northern Cycle, to tune up his secondhand GT Slipstream, which he picked up at an outdoor sale, complete with B.O.B. trailer, for $150—heck of a deal!), did some sit-ups and other training over the winter, and took off from headwaters country last Monday.

Donald is raising money for three local organizations back home:
  1. Akeley Regional Community Center: They're a local non-profit that has bought an old vacant building (the former Akeley school) and turned it into a community cultural center to bring more activity to town (sound familiar?).
  2. Hubbard County DAC: like Madison's ECCO; they run the Bearly Used thrift store and do recycling under contract with the county.
  3. Headwaters Animal Shelter: they have a pledge form available for Donald's "American Spirit" ride.
Here's a general approximation of the route:

View Larger Map

Donald has a mail pickup planned for Kirwin, Kansas (he may also try to convince the folks at the courthouse there that he's the last living descendant of the town founders and has a claim to some choice city property). Other than that, the route is flexible, as he picks out the more interesting (and quieter!) county roads that the big maps don't show.

Easter Sunday, April 12: After a comfortable night in the Madville Times Marine Lookout Post, Kerwin gears up for some more church of the open road.
Donald was going to stay at Lake Herman State Park, but I wasn't sure if the showers and such were hooked up for the season yet, so I invited him to come stay at Madville Times World Headquarters on the west side of Lake Herman. He had some lasagna with us, got laundry done, and enjoyed a restful night with a roof over his head (a roof originally built by Dick Wiedenman).

As I noted above, Donald is not a regular cyclist. He's worked as a marketer, machine operator, and childcare provider. He said that last year when he bothered to ride his bike, he went maybe 4–5 miles at a time and that was it. He's never done a long-distance bike trip like this. He had surgery on his right knee last year, and a couple days in, his left knee swelled up and kept him off the road for a day. But he rested, and yesterday biking out to the lake, he looked pretty good.

And now this morning, couple bowls of cereal, a check of the weather, a prayer, and he's off!

Just a regular guy, wearing regular comfortable clothes, riding a pretty regular bike... to Arizona.

Good luck and good weather to you, Donald!

Update 2009.05.18: He made it! On Thursday, May 7, Donald Kerwin cranked through mile 1931 to his destination in Apache Junction, Arizona. 32 days... that's 60 miles a day. Not bad! But now the question that keeps all great adventurers up at night: What's next?


  1. Excellent Article......I passed him in Minnesota on Friday...when I was on my way back to Madison for the weekend. Then, Saturday I saw him just coming into Madison on the New Bike Trail. I thought I recognized him and now after your article I know what his cause is all about.

    Thanks, for the story....


  2. Great story! Thanks for being willing to take him in as well. There is a site (warmshowers.org) that you can sign up on to host cross country cyclists. Check it out!


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.