Ditch the Van — Take the 2 Mile Challenge

| 8/30/2010 5:01:40 AM

Tags: Ben Sollee, 2 Mile Challenge, Carolyn Szczepanski,

BenSolleeFor Ben Sollee, the call of the open road had dulled to a whisper.

As a hardscrabble musician, the Kentucky native sprinted from town to town, taking advantage of every opportunity to play his cello and showcase his songwriting talent for audiences across the nation. But traveling at faster-than-human pace left Sollee disoriented. Instead of savoring the artist ‘s lifestyle, he could barely remember the communities he visited, let alone the people he met.

It was time for a change.

Instead of focusing on the destinations, Sollee decided to reclaim the journey.

“So, in early 2009, when I saw a commercial for an Xtracycle cargo bike, my mind spun into fantasy: the road, a bike, my cello and music to play,” Sollee wrote in American Bicyclist magazine this summer. “At that moment I saw the bike as an offering of limitations, a tool to re-humanize the pace of touring. And, with my 60 pounds of gear loaded onto a 40-pound bike, there were plenty of limitations.”

Not the least of which was the fact that Sollee was a bike rider, but not a serious cyclist. During the first leg of his initial two-wheeling tour — a 350-mile jaunt to the Bonnaroo Music Festival — pedaling 50 miles a day was taxing. But cruising on backcountry roads, a cool breeze blowing away his touring stress, Sollee got hooked. A few months later, in December, he planned a more ambitious bike tour from North Carolina down through Florida.

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