South Dakota native biking across America for 3 charities


ABERDEEN (AP) – A Bristol native who has completed two hefty hiking adventures in recent years is now biking across the country.

Jeff Peterson passed through Aberdeen earlier this month on his way from Anacortes, Washington to Key West, Florida. He started the day in Ipswich, headed east on U.S. Highway 12, the same road that passes his hometown.

In all, the 63-year-old’s journey will take him 4,800 miles.

Peterson now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with his wife, Kris. Both are from Bristol and are Northern State University graduates.

As he bikes, Peterson is also raising money for three groups – Sun Dial Manor in Bristol, K9s for Warriors and the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Each group has a special meaning to him.

Peterson is a veteran, and the headquarters for K9s for Warriors is near his home in Florida.

He picked the Down syndrome program because, he said, it’s an underfunded area of medicine and he has a friend with a daughter who has Down syndrome.

And Sun Dial Manor, of course, is in his hometown, a Day County community that’s home to about 350 people.

“That’s a very important part of Bristol,” he said. “They employ a lot of people there.”

Some 1,200 miles into the trip, Peterson said earlier this month it had been brutal with steep mountain terrain at first followed by temperatures in the 90s or hotter. But, he said, he’d met some interesting people along the way, and he tries not to think about how much farther he has to go.

“I try to take it day by day and do what I can do,” he said.

One day he pedaled 101 miles from Mandan, North Dakota, to Herreid, just south of the border of the Dakotas, the Aberdeen American News reported.

He doesn’t have a set schedule and is averaging 80 to 90 miles a day, with shorter distances on the hotter days. He stays in a combination of places that include both motels and his tent, which he carries with him.

“I made a resolution not to go more than 70 miles a day when it’s (overly) hot,” he said.

He’s hoping to reach Key West by Sept. 1, which would put him back home in time to play in a golf tournament on Sept. 16. He started his trip June 13.

An avid walker who completed a 2,000-mile hike from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and a 900-mile hike through coastal Spain and Portugal in 2019, Peterson doesn’t have much experience with long-distance biking.

“I had this hair-brained idea that I could bicycle a long distance without really knowing if I could,” he said. “So I bought a bike, did a little training and took off.”

He packed his bike, flew west to Washington and started his journey, which will end about 500 miles from his home. He quickly realized the difference between the muscles used for biking and hiking.

Peterson raised $94,728 in pledges from his hikes and has added roughly $13,000 more on his current journey.

“We raised enough on the Appalachian Trail where we could sponsor a K9 and the warrior,” he said, recalling the meeting he had with the veteran and his service dog.

Information about each of Peterson’s adventures and a daily blog can be found only at at-pete.com.

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