I had a great evening in Hanoi last night, gaining new perspectives. After spending the afternoon building the bike (look, ma, no leftover bike parts!), I headed to a Vietnamese restaurant to meet Tung Nguyen, an oncologist, cancer researcher, long distance runner, and translator of art and architecture. The conversation was quite amazing, covering everything from…Details
George’s bike adventures have expanded his creative boundaries as much as they have pushed his physical limits during his weeks-long rides across the United States, Iceland, Sri Lanka and Canada. He embarked on his first ride, “48 Across the 48,” in 2014 to test himself while contributing to the greater good by raising money for cancer research at the Mayo Clinic. He reached his $50,000 goal with 2018’s “52 Across Canada.”
53 Across Vietnam
He also found that he soaked up stories from the people he encountered — often complete strangers who offered to help him or asked questions about his ride, even if they didn’t share a language — the terrain he traveled and sights, sounds and smells he ingested from the open-air vantage point of his bike.
His bicycle saddle was becoming a mobile version of his piano bench. The artistic compositions were just taking a different form.
George will chart a new course with “53 Across Vietnam.” He plans to immerse himself more deeply in the communities he pedals through, volunteering as a way to give back and carrying recording equipment to document the sights, sounds and personalities he encounters for “Tales From a Bicycle Seat.”
He hopes to connect with a variety of people — artists, writers, spiritual leaders — and filter questions through his composer’s eye while letting conversations unfold organically.
Contributing to the Greater Good
What prompted a successful musician to put the brakes on his career to spend weeks on the road?
It started with love.
George rides in memory of Carolyn Held, a close friend who made her own bicycle ride across the country in 1988. She died in 2012 after a one-year battle with cancer, and George wanted to make a contribution in her honor.
His first journey took him across the lower 48 states in 48 days, during his 48th year on Earth. He modeled it after Carolyn’s, which she also did in 48 days the year she turned 48. George rode 3,600 miles, solo, and more than doubled his $10,000 goal that year, bringing in $21,000 for the Mayo.
He knew he could push further.
He rode another U.S. route the following year and then decided to intensify the challenge. Iceland brought him through extreme terrain, and Sri Lanka offered a new climate and culture. George felt a new vulnerability riding through an unfamiliar landscape in a country where he didn’t know the language, and he realized that it changed his context and helped him see things from another perspective.
He brought recording equipment and starting interviewing artists and locals on the 2018 Canada trek to share that feeling more widely.
George plans to hold true to his original goals for these epic rides: to push his own limits while contributing to the greater good. But he sees an opportunity to explore new artistic territory and contribute more to the places he visits.