Call him a chip off the old bike.

Nate Kahlenbeck has started out on a bike ride across America from San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Kahlenbeck, 19, Columbus, convinced his fellow Eagle scout and friend Garrett Pevlor, 17, Elizabethtown, to go along for the ride — which began Sunday.

Nate’s father, Joe Kahlenbeck, rode a bike across America in 1985, a fete that also was recounted in The Republic.

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The Kahlenbeck family owns and operate Columbus Cycling & Fitness in Columbus, a business that has operated from the 800 block of 16th Street since 1928.

Joe Kahlenbeck has a large photo frame on his office wall at the business showing the route across the United States he traveled on a bike, also starting at San Juan Capistrano, just three days after he graduated from Columbus North High School. He was accompanied by a friend, Trent Gentry, who also lives in Columbus and is shown in the photos.

The decision by Nate Kahlenbeck and Pevlor to pack camping gear onto bikes and travel by train to the west coast, followed by an estimated 4,500-mile bike ride, was a spur-of-the-moment decision, they said.

Pevlor described his invitation to the ride, saying Nate Kahlenbeck walked up to him at a Scout meeting and asked if he wanted to go on a bike ride.

“Where?” Pevlor asked.

“Across the United States,” Nate Kahlenbeck said.

“I didn’t expect that answer,” Pevlor said. “But it didn’t surprise me at all.”

The two have been friends since sixth grade, working together at Columbus Cycling & Fitness for Joe Kahlenbeck and attending Boy Scout Troop 559 meetings and events.

Pevlor, who will be a senior at Columbus East next fall, said he didn’t hesitate at the chance to ride a bike across the United States with his friend. But he admitted he’s never been away from home as long as the trip will take, an estimated 40 to 45 days if the teens cover 100 miles per day.

Nate Kahlenbeck, who graduated from Columbus North in 2016, is studying business at IUPUC in preparation for taking over the family cycling business from his father one day.

Although the teens plan to mirror Joe Kahlenbeck’s route to some extent, they have planned more of a zig-zag path through some Western states to allow each bicyclist to see some “bucket list” locations — among them Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.

“They will be riding about 1,000 miles more than me,” Joe Kahlenbeck said of his more straight-line route that paralleled U.S. 40 across the United States.

“We’re going to a whole other state just to hit a mountain,” Pevlor said, smiling at the idea of riding toward and climbing mountains that other cyclists might try to bike around.

“We planned to ride the biggest mountains we could ride,” Nate Kahlenbeck said.

“You do want to get up on those high places on the bike,” his father said. “The view is amazing.”

The two will bike through Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee in their journey, planning to stay at KOA Campgrounds along the way. If there isn’t one available, they plan to ask law enforcement or residents where they should camp.

They are taking two changes of clothes each and will buy food along the way, they said. They will stick to state roads similar to U.S. 31 in Bartholomew County, which tend to take travelers through small towns along the way.

The journey will teach the two a lot about meeting people and finding the good in humanity, Joe Kahlenbeck said of what he learned when he road nearly 4,000 miles on his trip across the states.

“It restores your faith in humanity,” he said. “You see all the good in people. What I remember is all the people who helped us.”

Joe Kahlenbeck isn’t worried about the two teens figuring out how to cook and feed themselves. They’ve been in scouting long enough to know how to camp and find food. And since both have worked at the cycling shop, they are familiar with how to fix their bikes if something happens.

“I’m not worried about them,” Joe Kahlenbeck said. “If one of them gets sick, that’s a couple days in the tent and they’ll be fine.”

The two will be posting photos of their journey on Instagram with the hashtag #CCFLostInUSA and those photos will also be posted to Columbus Cycling’s Facebook and web page.

If the two do run into trouble, “planes go everywhere,” Joe Kahlenbeck said with a smile. And as long as the two make it at least halfway across the country, that’s within quick driving distance for the parents to handle, he said.

Joe Kahlenbeck said he would love to go on a similar trip again, but he’s needed at the family’s business — especially since half his workforce just took off on a bike ride across America.

Follow the journey

To follow Nate Kahlenbeck and Garrett Pevlor as they ride across the United States, track them on Instagram at the hashtag #CCFLostInUSA.

Photos from the trip will also be posted on the Columbus Cycling & Fitness Facebook page and website, columbus-cycling.com/

Nate Kahlenbeck and Garrett Pevlor are riding across the United States after dipping their back tires in the ocean at San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California. Photo provided
Nate Kahlenbeck and Garrett Pevlor are riding across the United States after dipping their back tires in the ocean at San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California. Photo provided
Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.