Last updated: June 01. 2013 8:42AM - 387 Views
Dylan Lightfoot
Staff Writer

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Cyclist Eric Johnson, an Ashe County High School alumnus who hails from Lansing, crossed the Ohio River Wednesday on his 3,500 mile cross-country trek from Wilmington to San Francisco, and spent the night in Elizabethtown, Ill..

A UNC Wilmington graduate, Johnson, 24, rode out of Wrightsville Beach April 10 on his nine-week coast-to-coast ride with a goal to average 65 miles per day and arrive in San Francisco by June 11, in time to catch an evening flight back east.

The idea for the trip “came up in a conversation with a friend,” Johnson said, but “he was unable to join.”

Setting off on his own, the first leg of the journey took him across N.C. to his parent’s home in Lansing. From there, Johnson headed to Damascus, Va. and picked up a route mapped on adventurecycling.org.

He has since teamed up with another cyclist he met who happened to be biking the same route.

So far, Johnson has been riding five to eight hours per day, and is currently ahead of schedule, averaging between 90-100 miles per day, despite some inclement weather and challenging terrain.

His ride to the West Coast has raised a few dollars for charity. Donors supporting his effort have given over $1,600 to Easter Seals through ridewithoutlimits.org.

Johnson, who is blogging his journey, has been sleeping in church sanctuaries and eating at diners and gas stations along the way, he said.

“It’s kind of daunting to wake up and realize you have 85 miles to go,” he said. “It’s a little tiring, but I have all day.”

Johnson, who majored in exercise science, has a solid endurance background. “I ran cross country and track in college,” he said.

He first took up cycling as part of his cross-training regimen, he said. But a series of track injuries in recent years saw him spending more and more time on his bike, and he became an avid cyclist.

But his bike will be going into storage for awhile when he gets to San Francisco, he said. After attending his sister’s wedding in Jamaica in June, Johnson will be relocating to California and preparing to start graduate school at University of Southern California-Los Angeles in August.

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