man holding bike over head in ocean

Bicycle Across The Country: Brilliance or Insanity?

By: P. Andersen and L. Rush

Brilliance, by P. Andersen

The Adventure of a Lifetime.

As many of you know, Ken Fuirst, co-president of Levitt-Fuirst, is riding – his bicycle, mind you – from the coast of Washington State to the New Jersey shore; a ride commemorating his mid-life crisis at the age of 50.  He is riding from 50 to 200 miles per day, over Rockies and Black Hills, wind at his back and in his face.  If you know Ken, you know he likes to be in control.  This process does not really allow that, as you are at the mercy of weather, bike mechanicals, construction, aches and pains, and other people.  Always other people…

I have always been at ease on 2 wheels, from the day I learned to ride with my 4 older brothers’ assistance (pushed down the grass hill on our front lawn in Greenwich was how we Andersens learned to ride!).  In college, I bought my first mountain bike, and rode that to school, and for fun.  I moved back up to the northeast, and rode mountain bikes with my brothers on weekends in the woods of Connecticut.  They bought road bikes, I bought a road bike – and started racing in New York City.  I eventually became a Cat 3 racer, mid-level good, and even won some races in the city…  I brought my bike on my honeymoon in Spain!

So, bikes?  I get bikes, I love them, I have 3 of them that I neglect more than I should these days.

I never much wanted to ride across the country, though.  It is far, it is hard, it is dangerous, it has so much that is out of your control…  I think this is why I am fascinated with Ken’s adventure.  Taking time from Levitt-Fuirst, letting his faithful employees take care of his clients (unfathomable!), connecting with people from all walks of life, seeing the country in a way that few do.  There is a bit of a siren’s call to my inner cyclist while reading his blog – an appreciation of all he is doing.

I emailed a question to Ken last week, and he called me right back.  He was on his rest day, and was on his way to Mount Rushmore.  After discussing business, I told him that the employees were wondering if this ride might change him in some way; alter him as a boss, a manager, a person.  He said he honestly didn’t know what he would be like when he returned, how he would be changed (but there was a sense that he would be changed in some real way).  It seemed like a sign that sometimes a big, crazy, well planned but so much out of control adventure might just be the right thing, a defining thing, in one’s life.  And Ken’s first words on that call?  “You HAVE to do this ride someday”.

Maybe that adventure will call me one day, as it did Ken.  Maybe it will be some other trip, or quest, or goal that needs attaining.  Perhaps we should all find that thing in our lives, something that pushes us beyond our boundaries of comfort and safety.  Perhaps our definition of ourselves can be updated to include adventurer, risk taker, bucket lister.  I hope so for myself.

Insanity, by L. Rush

Ken’s Adventure…or as I like to call it “What you would do to me if you wanted me to spill State secrets”……

As many of you know, Ken Fuirst, Co-President of Levitt-Fuirst Associates has taken off on a 9-
week (give or take) adventure of a lifetime. He presented the employees with his plan last year in one of our monthly company meetings, when he told us that our “gift” in the coming year was that he planned to ride his bicycle cross country and be gone for two months. Once the cheering stopped, we all sort of forgot about it and went on about our business. And then he started training. Seriously training. As in “I biked from my house in Chappaqua down to the Jersey Shore”. I’m sorry, what?? My version of exercise is to walk to the bakery to get my pastry, so to me this was insanity. He started putting all in order in the office…making sure that his accounts were comfortable and taken care of, everyone was up to date on everything, down to the last minute detail. I still couldn’t see how this was going to happen – Ken is a bit of a “controller”. One of our favorite office games? Wait until Ken walks a few steps out of his office and then ring his phone and watch him go flying back in to retrieve the call, and hang up. There are no “missed work calls” in Ken’s world. We have worked together for 22 years. I know his personality, we have an odd, quirky friendship – and I still could not see this happening. And then it did – the day was here, he was leaving.

He started his trip in Seattle, WA. It is him and his bike, a few provisions, a tent, and a lot of determination. He is staying sometimes with people that open their homes to people biking this route, other times he camps where he can find a spot. He is traveling alone. This is the trip that I would plan for myself if I wanted to poke every fear, phobia and megrim that I have. He is blogging the whole time, posting pictures – some of the quirky, small-town oddities that strike his funny bone, some of the big, touristy spots, some of the miles and miles of barrenness that he has to bike through to get to the next small town. And some are of Ken, smiling, dirty, getting thinner by the day, and happier than I have ever seen his face. I am alternately awed and horrified. Some of his blogs begin with “So, I biked 73 miles to Bump In The Road, Montana and pitched my tent on the side of the road. My front tire is low (Ken’s front tire is always low by the way – it gives me palpitations), I stopped at the local bait/gun/huckleberry pancake store and had some breakfast….” . He talks to the locals, comes away with goofy stories and local legends and directions that may or may not be accurate. He is doing something that most people only dream about (not me….really….not me). He took “that thing” that everyone has that they want to do, talk about doing, dream of doing (Me? I want to write a really good novel, adopt a child that needs a good home, run a farm for abused dogs and children to help them heal each other), and he is DOING it.

And it’s hard and dirty work. And, being that my ultimate goal and pleasure in life is to tell Ken what a dork he is, I won’t tell him that I think this is a really cool thing. But I think it’s a really cool thing.

And here is our acclaimed boss Ken Fuirst, riding away into the openness.

2 replies
  1. Al Young
    Al Young says:

    I met Ken on the road and what a neat guy. We actually were in contact for seversl days, meeting up again after one of us took a day off. He left me on the day out of East Glacier when we had the most awesome tail wind. I heard later down the road that he had ridden 173 miles that day. I’m much older and didn’t take advantage of the wind. Didn’t want to hurt my knee. Sounds like he is going to reach his goal. You go Ken. I can relate because I’m 66 and this is an awesome way to see the world and spend the summer. I had to wait til I retired. It is never to late. ‘Big Al’

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