2017-09-13 / Front Page

Epic journey leads to family connection for mid-west cyclist

By Dee Menear
Irregular Staff Writer


Marshall Lewis has logged close to 11,000 miles on an epic bikepacking journey around the United States. (Dee Menear photo) Marshall Lewis has logged close to 11,000 miles on an epic bikepacking journey around the United States. (Dee Menear photo) CARRABASSETT VALLEY — A few years ago, Marshall Lewis of Arden Hills, Minn. found himself dealing with some pretty tough circumstances. In 2013, not only was he facing troubles in his marriage but he had to have a total hip replacement. After surgery and without a car, he discovered bike riding was a form of exercise that he could comfortably handle. It wasn’t long before he found he really enjoyed cycling.

“I felt more free travelling on a bicycle than I did with a car. I took to going on 20- to 40-mile rides just because it made me feel free. Going places truly became more about the journey than the destination,” said Lewis.

Then he was hit by a car and suffered a broken ankle. “While I was healing, I read A Walk in the Woods, a story about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I was inspired by the story and began reading even more stories about epic trips,” Lewis said.


Joni Blanchard welcomes Marshall Lewis to Maine’s High Peaks Visitor Center in Carrabassett Valley. (Submitted by Marshall Lewis) Joni Blanchard welcomes Marshall Lewis to Maine’s High Peaks Visitor Center in Carrabassett Valley. (Submitted by Marshall Lewis) Those stories left such an impression on Lewis that he decided he wanted to start bikepacking when his ankle healed. “A friend bought me what I needed for tenting, so I couldn’t back out of it,” joked Lewis.

He found he really enjoyed bikepacking and ended up spending every weekend possible riding to different destinations to camp out.

Still, he yearned for something epic. So he saved a little cash and June 10, 2016, Lewis set off from his hometown for his own grand adventure.

In the last 15 months, Lewis has traveled to the West Coast to spend time with his biological father, spent time in Hawaii, biked to Florida where he worked for a few months, and traveled up the east coast before beginning the journey home. He has logged close to 11,000 miles on his epic journey and learned a lot about people and about himself.


Marshall Lewis (right) meets his distant cousin Caleb Stevens in Eustis. (Submitted by Marshall Lewis) Marshall Lewis (right) meets his distant cousin Caleb Stevens in Eustis. (Submitted by Marshall Lewis) “I have been the recipient of a lot of pay-it-forward acts. People ask me what I’m doing and why. I’ve been told I am an inspiration to others. I’ve had meals paid for, money given to me, and people just being kind,” stated Lewis. He hopes to continue to inspire people with his story. “Maybe someone will start their own epic adventure but I hope the people who can’t, can live an epic journey through me,” remarked Lewis.

While visiting his father in California, he became acquainted with his paternal family and began learning about his family name — Stevens. “I heard I had ancestry here. But even then, I didn’t know I was heading here,” Lewis said.

Eventually, he connected with Caleb and Lisa Stevens to talk about his Maine ancestry. That discussion led to Lewis visiting Eustis in late August to meet Caleb and his wife, Lisa. Lewis spent the day getting to know his distant cousin and learning about his ancestry at the Dead River Historical Society. Lewis said Caleb Dalton Stevens, one of the first settlers of Eustis, is his fourth great-grandfather.

Lewis, who is in his 40s, is now on his way back to Minnesota and he is not sure what his next step will be. He’s been out of the work force for a while and is worried about what that gap of employment will look like to future employers. “I’m nervous about being poor in my old age but it sounds enticing to keep my needs low,” noted Lewis.

Lewis keeps an online journal to track miles, destinations and experiences. His journal can be found by searching for his name at crazyguyonabike.com.

Reflecting on the journey, Lewis said, “When I get home, I’ll be the poorest I’ve ever been but I’ll be rich in experiences.”

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