MORRISTOWN, NJ – You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream and 70-year-old Morris Township resident Paul Kiczek proved that this weekend as he completed a 1,500-mile bike ride from Key West, FL to his hometown. He was joined by his family at the end of the final leg of his month-long trek and was even joined for the last quarter-mile by his five grandchildren in which he says was a such a rewarding experience.
Kiczek explained that he had planned to coincide his retirement with an adventure and that the bike tour up the East Coast took about nine months of planning. He set on the trip with his Seven Cycles bike, which was custom built for him.
“I thought about doing something unusual and adventurous that tested me physically and mentally,” said Kiczek, who had been cyclist for over two decades. “I saw touring as an interesting way of keeping active and was up for the challenge.”
The initial plan was to partner take on the interstate trip with his friend Tom Landes, who had more experience on multi-day bike rides. However, about one week into the trip due to unanticipated circumstances, Kiczek had to finish the expedition solo. Other unexpected repairs along the way complicated matters, but Kiczek said that he had to ‘MacGyver’ some things in order to continue on.
“When Tom dropped out the possibility of not finishing did cross my mind,” Kiczek suggested. “But you just sort of plow on and you realize after a few days it’s nothing to be concerned about.”
Among the obstacles Kiczek had to overcome were on both the mental and physical spectrum. He also had to account for unexpected repairs including the first in Key Largo, FL where he blew a tire. Narrow bridges were among the many obstacles encountered along the way.
The solo part was one that he hadn’t really considered, but it was a good personal experience being out on your own. Despite traveling alone for much of the trip, he valued the relationships he was able to build with people along the way.
“The people that I’ve met on my journey were half the fun,” he suggested. “Many of the people that I’ve encountered along the way were interested in me because it’s not often that they see people in cycling outfits. It renewed my faith in people there are a lot of good people out there (in different parts of the country).”
Upon completing the journey, Kiczek said he plans to do finish doing work around his shore house and spend more time with his wife. He also added that he’d like to add more volunteer work and expand on his interests such as writing, but most of all he looks forward to the retirement.
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