OROVILLE – Brooks Enzensperger did more than go over the river and through the woods to visit grandfather’s house when he biked 3500 miles from Vermont to Oroville.
The 16-year-old said he made the trip, his first to Oroville, as a challenge to himself, never having gone on a bicycle journey anywhere near that far before. His destination was to see his grandfather, Joseph Enzensperger.
“I rode most of the trip, halfway, with my friend Sydney who is 17,” he said.
He added that when she was riding with him, they put in an average of about 75 miles a day and when he biked solo he averaged 95 miles a day.
Enzensperger said to prepare he not only planned out his route but worked and saved money, mostly by working at a restaurant.
About how his parents felt about him bicycling that far, much of it on his own, he said, “My dad wanted me to do it and my mom said ‘OK.’ I wanted to do it a year ago, but at that time they felt I was too young.”
He said they used paper maps for the first part of the journey but later switched to a phone app called Kamoot, which Enzensperger said is for planning hiking and biking routes.
His trip took him from Vermont to New York, then to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, before crossing into Washington state.
“We were supposed to stay north and go through North Dakota but we headed a little south to South Dakota and saw Mt. Rushmore,” he said, adding that there wasn’t a whole lot else to see in that state.
Enzensperger said he and his traveling companion parted ways in Custer, South Dakota and she rode solo back to Vermont.
The teen said weatherwise the ride was mostly very hot, but they encountered several rainstorms along the way. And, together and separately, they traveled through some “pretty sketchy places” in the bigger cities.
Along the way, he stayed in campgrounds about 80 percent of the time with a few stops in motels.
“We also stayed in people’s houses, sometimes with my dad’s friends… other times random people would offer us a place to stay,” he said.
While on their journey they saw a few other cyclists, including a 65-year-old man who said he was going coast to coast.
On their bikes, they packed food, including candy, water and a tent, but often bought food along the way.
“Mostly at gas stations,” Enzensperger said.
He said there were no health issues on the journey, but after riding that long “his butt felt like it was on fire” from the saddle.
“The final stretch seemed like it took forever, even though I had 98 percent of the trip behind me,” he said.
That final stretch led him over 6900-foot Sherman Pass, as well as Wauconda Pass, down to Tonasket. Then it was north up Highway 97 and into Oroville, where he made a turn west onto Central to be cheered on by relatives waiting for him at his grandfather’s house.
“Brooks is quite the adventurer, it sounds like he had an amazing trip,” said his grandfather.
The younger Enzensperger’s hobbies include snowboarding and mountain biking. He said in the past most of his cycling trips have been “shorter, cooler rides.”
The teen said he took a lot of photos along the way to remind him of his adventure to Oroville. The young cyclist won’t be heading west to east on the return journey, at least not by bicycle. He and his bike, which he describes as a steel, gravel bike, will be flying home.