One of the things I like the most about my job is that I work with the most amazing people. Mike Woelmer is one of those folks. As a Senior Developer at SRT, Mike has done a lot of interesting work. His versatility is evident in his work. In the time that he’s worked for us he’s worked on calculations in back-end software, representations of data in WPF, an engaging touch screen interface for our survey engine, a mobile application, and used a Python-based web framework for a local customer.
Early this year, Mike came to Bill and I and asked if we thought it would be a problem for him to take a month off to ride across America in his velomobile. You may have seen this interesting bike parked outside our office. It is a bike — entirely human powered. It’s how Mike gets to work most days, riding about 20 miles. But this was a much different trip. This was a trip from Portland, OR to Washington, DC over a period of 4 weeks. That’s 3000 miles, over first the Rockies, then the Appalachians. And a whole lot of country in between. Mike asked if this would be a problem because he would be taking his vacation in one big chunk of 4 weeks. We told him to go ahead. I don’t think either of us really thought hard about what he was doing. No, it wasn’t a problem for the business, but wow … 3000 miles. On a bike. Through the mountains.
A week ago, Mike and the other riders spent the night in Fort Wayne, IN on their way across the country. I threw my kids in the car and headed down there to cheer him on and to recognize his accomplishment in person. When the children complained that our 140 mile car ride was long, I reminded them that Mike had ridden his bike that far, that day (he rode 128 miles last Thursday). When we got to Fort Wayne, we got to see, in person, what Mike had been doing for the previous 3 weeks. Typically on his bike by 6:30 am until about 4:30-5:30 pm, he rolled into camp and set up his backpacking tent (damp from being taken down at 5:30 am). Mike was limited to one bag on the trip, plus what he could carry on the bike, so he has minimal clothes and has to do laundry every few days. He also had to get out to a restaurant and/or grocery store each night, which meant more riding after his ride for the day had technically ended. When we saw him, he was pretty tired, but determined. Oh, and raccoons had gotten into the tour’s snack bag of Clif bars the night before.
And early in the evening on Wednesday, August 24, Mike and the other riders rolled into Washington, DC, the final destination in their journey across America. We’re all amazed at Mike’s accomplishment. There’s one question that remains: will Mike ride into work on Monday … or drive?