Courtsey of Eva Gallione
After serving four years in the Marine Corps, Rob Kohrs BHS '91, was ready to return home for the holidays from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California
Traveling home in style of his own, the 27-year-old borough resident took the opportunity to ride a bicycle across the country Returning to Bergenfield just in time for Thanksgiving.
Kohrs began pedaling near Camp Pendleton on September 10. Averaging 65 to 70 miles per day, he arrived in Jersey City on November 20th with numerous stories to tell and plenty of pictures from his journey through 14 states.
“Toward the end I had to pick up the pace,” he said. “I had to get home before Thanksgiving or my mom would have killed me.”
He made it – with a few days to spare – but the seed for the journey had been planted years before.
Sometime during high school or college – he doesn’t remember exactly when – he saw a segment on the news about a father and daughter who biked across the country in 56 days.
The idea took a back burner until after graduated from Cornell University and then enlisted in the Marines.
After finding out he wouldn’t get the Persian Gulf assignment for which he applied, Kohrs, a first lieutenant, decided to end his military career. Stationed on the West Coast, he knew the opportunity had presented itself for him to bike home.
“I remember thinking (the father and daughter did it in) an amazing time – to do it in only 56 days,” he said. “ I deliberately took a plane ride out there with the idea of maybe doing it. I just decided to do it.”
With only two months of preparation, he prepared 13 boxes with three to four days worth of food in each of them. He then had his former Marine roommate send them from his room– to the trip’s makeshift headquarter – to post offices across the country where he could pick them up along the way.
“I didn’t do much biking (in preparation). I only got my bike two weeks before,” Kohrs said. “I was in shape though with all of the training we did.”
Along the way, Kohrs visited many national parks and tourist sites, especially in Utah and the rest of the Southwest. He visited the Grand Canyon and various other points of interest in that corner of the country before picking up the pace through the Midwest.
Kohrs also visited friends along the way, taking 15 “rest days” spent recuperating and visiting with friends.
The ride wasn’t an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.
Starting out in early September, Kohrs had to face the late summer heat of the Southwest, battling 100 degree days in the desert.
“One day it got up to 125 degrees. In the desert at night, it doesn’t get much cooler than 90 degrees,” Kohrs said.
“In a couple of spots, I was short on water. In the desert, I carried two gallons, that’s and extra 16 pounds. That I didn’t want to have to carry.”
Kohrs estimated that the temperature of the water in his bottle was 100 degrees during the day.
He said he did two sessions per day from predawn to about 11 a.m. and then from 3 p.m. to just after dark. He said he just couldn’t bike in the midday heat.
The opposite was the case by the time he crossed the Mississippi River. The weather began in the 40 to 50 degree range, then dropped into the 30’s by the time he got to the East coat.
“That was my only mistake, I didn’t have warm enough equipment,” Kohrs said. “My sleeping bag wasn’t equipped for 30 degree temperatures, and td the wind cut right through me on the bike.”
Kohrs regularly updated his Website, www.korhs.org
The bike trip wasn’t his first adventure, he and a college friend hiked the Appalachian Trail in the spring of 1996, covering 2,000 miles in 146 days. Starting out in Amicaloa State Park in Georgia, he pair concluded the trip in Mount Katahdin, Maine.
While Kohrs said he’s looking for a job in he telephone communications industry, his adventures may not be over.
Hitting California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey during his journey, he said he hasn’t ruled out a future journey, necessarily by bike to visit others.
“I always try to break the news to (my mom) in bits,” Kohrs said about his adventures.
“Maybe by the third or fourth time (of mentioning it), I tell her I’m going to do it.