A Man, a Midlife Crisis and the Mississippi
While some guys buy Porsches to remedy their midlife crises, Fletcher Moore prefers to flirt with the chance of getting sunstroke while cycling along the length of the Mississippi in July.
“Most of the time, I like to have a couple of large-scale projects on my radar to give me a sense of purpose beyond the quotidian grind,” said Moore, a senior web developer in Communications and Marketing at Tech. “Most of these are cerebral, and as I’m naturally inclined to sloth, I felt it was time to challenge my body as well.”
The BikeTwain project, as Moore is calling his 30-day, 1,800-plus-mile bike ride, following the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana, will be a greenlined, documentary-making trip, meaning that sustainability will be key.
Moore will be regularly updating his website and living day-to-day life with whatever fits in a small trailer attached to the bike and using solar energy to power a bike-mounted generator.
With help from a Kodak camera, a laptop, an iPhone and wireless technology, Moore will stock his website with interviews, photos, minidocumentaries, essays and the occasional rant.
Initially, Moore toyed with the idea of riding cross-country — until he realized how long it would take. Then, it dawned on him that there was more than one way to cross the country.
“The Mississippi has all of these marvelous resonances in American life. It flows through our history and culture, just as it flows through our geography,” he said.
After settling on the route, the project name fell into place. Mark Twain is the quintessential American writer and his connection to the river is so natural, Moore said.
“I think of him as the patron saint of the project, and his magnificent book, “Life on the Mississippi,” is a text for the video documentary I’ll be creating,” he added.
Starting on July 1, Moore will bike an average of 60 miles per day — slightly more than the eight he usually does biking to work each day. He has “faith” that his body will respond.
“Especially if I have no choice, and I don’t, because I’m already burning up all of the vacation time I’ve hoarded,” Moore said.
He’ll pass the days listening to music and a few audiobooks, thanks to a small crank-up radio and 3G access, letting each day’s plan develop organically as he meanders along the river.
“But there are certain places that I don’t want to miss, such as Hannibal, Mo., and Vicksburg, Miss., and I’d like to visit at least one minor league baseball park,” Moore said.
Most nights, he will rely on his trusty tent for shelter, although Moore is hopeful that he might enjoy the comfort of the occasional bed.
“In terms of food, I’ll be carrying plenty of ramen noodles, just in case, but generally, a little grocery store or greasy spoon should always be within 20 miles of wherever I am,” he said.
And as for company on the ride, Moore will be joined by his father, who is also a bit of an adventurer — one of the oldest finishers of the last several Colorado River 100-mile Marathon Canoe Races, for a few days during the Tennessee stretch, but the bulk of the ride will be solo.
“In the end, it would be great to know that through this trip I’d inspired someone to say, ride a bike to the corner store instead of driving,” he said. “Or, maybe I can educate a few people who are interested in getting into solar energy.”
If you’d like to learn more about the project or follow along as the trip along the Mississippi unfolds, click here.