Two local teenagers have finished a nearly 3,500-mile bike ride from California to South Carolina.
Nate Kahlenbeck, 19, of Columbus, and his friend, Garrett Pevlor, 17, of Elizabethtown, dipped their bicycle wheels into the Atlantic Ocean at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as television reporters videotaped the moment at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The two, who work together at Columbus Cycling and Fitness, then walked down the beach and dived in for a swim after their 36-day bike ride, which started in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California at the beginning of June.
They were traveling back to Columbus overnight Wednesday with Pevlor’s mother, Melissa, who drove to Myrtle Beach to pick them up and drive them home.
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“I want to get back home,” Kahlenbeck said from a Myrtle Beach hotel after stopping for a shower and a break before getting back on the road. “I know we could ride more, but I think I’m mentally exhausted.”
Having television crews document their arrival at the Atlantic was awesome, Kahlenbeck said, although he and Pevlor rode around the cameraman and kept going, saying they were focusing on the water.
“It’s not every day that people see bikes with travel bags heading toward the ocean,” he said of the beachgoers, who watched their celebratory moment of putting their bike wheels into the water. When the two left California, they had a similar ceremony, dipping the bike wheels in the water and holding a sign that said they were headed to Myrtle Beach.
Nate’s father, Joe Kahlenbeck, who owns Columbus Cycling and Fitness, rode a bike across America in 1985, and was working at the shop Wednesday when the teens finished their ride.
He was able to share the moment when it was live streamed on social media.
While he could tell they were jubilant to finish the ride, Joe Kahlenbeck said he also knows the two, who are both Eagle scouts, are ready to come home.
“They are tired of traveling,” he said. “They just want to lay in bed, watch some TV, see their friends,” he said.
Nate Kahlenbeck said the mileage calculator showed the two teens rode 3,454 miles at the time they finished in 36 days.
His favorite parts of the ride included a trip through Wolf Creek Pass, a high mountain pass on the Continental Divide in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, and visiting Big Bear, a city in California.
There was never a time Kahlenbeck wanted to quit the ride, although he admitted a stretch through Kansas and Oklahome with a 20- to 30-mile-per-hour head wind had him questioning whether he could keep going. He said he broke it down to 10- and 20-mile increments in order not to stop.
“It was never a question of quitting,” he said.
The two teens’ bikes held up well during the trip, with Pevlor needed only one major repair, a bottom bracket that the two replaced at a bike shop along the way. There were some flat tires, but that was expected, Nate Kahlenbeck said.
The two did experience what Joe Kahlenbeck hoped they would — the chance to see the inherent goodness of people they met along the way who would help them with safe lodgings and food.
Nate Kahlenbeck said in California, the two were invited to stay with a retired professional mountain biker who was getting ready to leave his job at a firehouse and ended up cooking the two dinner and giving them a place to stay.
The teens planned to be back in Columbus this morning after the overnight drive from Myrtle Beach.
“I would do it again,” Nate Kahlenbeck said as he relaxed Wednesday afternoon before the drive home. “Maybe in a couple years.”
To see photos from the 3,500-mile trip by local teens Nate Kahlenbeck and Garrett Pevlor, visit the Columbus Cycling & Fitness Facebook page and its website, columbus-cycling.com