After a 37 day ride from Canada to the Mexican border, Tim Oracion, shown in front of Stellar Coffee Wednesday, is glad to be back home in Roswell. (Curtis Michaels Photo)
When Roswell native, Tim Oracion decided to pursue his dream, he did so on a bicycle. Oracion recently returned to Roswell after riding over 2,500 miles this spring.
“I was gone for 40 days,” he said. “I cycled 37 days and covered 2,537 miles. I averaged about 68 miles a day.”
While he’s toured before, this was a personal record.
“This was the first long-range touring that I’ve done,” Oracion said. “I’ve done some one week and two week, some supported and some self-contained, but this is the first time I’ve done anything over a month and with this kind of mileage. I’ve done some 500 and 700 mile rides but never a 2,500 mile ride.”
One of his biggest motivators to take this journey was to learn a bit about himself.
“I had been thinking about it for a couple of years, not even knowing if I’d be capable of doing it,” Oracion said. “Some people asked if I had trained and I said I’d been training for it my whole life. Really the main interest in this was to get out of my comfort zone.
“I wondered how I would do on a long-term trip, fully self-contained, where I would sleep in a tent most nights and would carry a stove and cook for myself most days. I didn’t know where I would sleep night after night. I wanted to push myself and see if it was something I could do.”
His wife, Donna, wasn’t as enthused as he might have hoped.
“When I started talking about it, my wife was concerned,” Oracion said. “She didn’t want me to go alone. I didn’t want to have to worry about somebody else being on my schedule, or me being on their schedule. She was concerned with me being out there by myself. I told her that with today’s technology I wouldn’t be out in the middle of nowhere much.”
She finally capitulated, when she saw how committed he was.
“When she saw me buying the things I needed for the trip, including the bike,” he said, “her concern shifted to wanting me to get it over with and get back home. That was the impetus that told me now I had to go through with it.”
Finally, Oracion took the leap.
“April 27 I was on a plane to Vancouver, Canada with my bike in tow and a throw away piece of luggage,” he said. “On April 28, I started pedaling. I did ten days in British Columbia because it’s so beautiful. I also rode around the San Juan islands off of the coast of Washington. I took the ferry back to Washington to Anacortes.”
After all that beauty and fresh air, he decided it was time to tempt fate, or he just tempted fate without meaning to.
“I’d had pretty good luck mechanically,” Oracion said, “and I was talking with a man named Michael about his tire troubles. I may have jinxed myself when I told him that with the exception of a blow-out of my front tire going downhill at about 35 miles per hour, which was hair raising, I’d had no mechancial issues.
“Shortly after that discussion with Michael my derailleur exploded. It was a Sunday afternoon and all the bike shops in Anacortes were closed. The nearest one was 20 miles inland at Bellingham.”
It was time to get creative.
“They said they were closing at 5 p.m.,” Oracion said. “I had the tools to turn the bike into a single speed and I rode as fast as I could. I arrived at 4:55 p.m. He took care of me. I got a new derailleur, and he got it all fixed up.”
He would have waited until Monday morning and enjoyed the evening at a more leisurely pace, but, well… he’s just not wired that way.
“I’m an Alpha person who’s always in a rush,” Oracion said. “I told myself I wouldn’t rush this trip with a deadline, and then proceeded to set one anyway. I have an aunt and uncle in San Diego and so I thought it would be nice for my wife to meet me at the end of the trip and we could spend four or five days there. With that in mind, suddenly the trip had a deadline.”
In this case, his rush helped him fulfill another goal he brought on the road.
“I also made this trip to meet people,” Oracion said. “After I had the derailleur replaced it was about 8:30 and I knew that by the time I ate and got settled in it would be dark, so I stopped at a fast food place for a sandwich. While there I was trying to do something with my iPad and getting frustrated. I saw a young couple and asked if they could help me with the technology. They ended up inviting me to stay in their home for the night.”
He had to contend with more than mechanical breakdowns. Sometimes nature broke things too. The Big Sur mudslides were taking out chunks of the Pacific Coast Highway during his tour.
“I utilized a Facebook page called Pacific Coast Route,” Oracion said, “which is set up for people to talk about what’s going on along the route. I had planned to make an inland route. It took me about 130 miles out of the way. Temperatures rose when I went over the Santa Lucia mountain range.”
He wasn’t finished tempting fate either.
“A lot of times I would set my bike up in a picture with a picturesque background,” Oracion said.” “I was on a road with a 200-foot drop and the ocean in the background one time, and I set my bike up on the side of the road to get a picture. As I was getting ready to take the picture, the kickstand sank into the hot roadbed and my bike did a flip and fell over the edge. Fortunately it landed upside down about 10 feet down on a ledge instead of falling the entire 200 feet. I was able to jump down and get my bike and gear back up.”
Through natural challenges, mechanical challenges and discernment challenges, Oracion kept riding day in and day out, much to his pleasure.
“There wasn’t a day when I got off the bike before 6:30 p.m.,” he said. “Some days I rode much later. The days were long, but they didn’t seem long.”
The Goddard High School Class of 1977 alumnus hopes people who hear his stories and see his pictures will take one thing with them.
“If you’ve ever thought about doing something, you should pursue it,” Oracion said. “I didn’t want to have any what if. I did this because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see how I’d react in situations I wasn’t comfortable in. I wanted to do this all for myself. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone except possibly to myself.”
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.