The Long Ride to Reunion

Most alumni arrive at Reunion via the usual transportation methods—driving, flying or even taking the train. But this year, Bob Nix ’89, of Aspen, Colo., who works as a Realtor, decided that he “wanted a bit of a challenge” when it came to attending his 25th reunion. So, on April 21, this former Holy Cross crew captain did just that—he began pedaling his bicycle from Colorado to Worcester, making it to campus on May 30 for the start of Reunion Weekend.

We met up with Nix as he pedaled his way up Mount St. James, asking him a few questions about his incredible journey.

Q  Is this the longest bike ride that you have ever taken?

A  Yes. I had never done a long-distance bike ride in my life but figured, if I could make it to Worcester, it would really make the reunion experience that much more special for me.

Q  How many days and miles did you travel?

A  The entire journey from Colorado to Massachusetts took 39 days and 2,700 miles.

Q  What challenges did you face on the road?

A  While the ride took its toll physically, the real challenge was mental. Dust storms with 60 mph winds, coal trucks passing within inches of me on narrow roads, nonstop hills and the occasional ornery farm dog really kept me on my toes. 

Q  What did you learn along the way?

A  While there were certainly difficult periods along the ride, the overall kindness of people I met in rural America was wonderful. I had amazing conversations in diners with local farmers and ranchers. I learned about the coal culture while in the Appalachians, and I realized that no matter where people were from and how simple a life they might appear to lead, everyone had a story to tell. Sleeping in small motels, churches, hostels and camping, I was able to really experience “small town” America.

Q  What inspired you to keep going?

A  The excitement of attending Reunion kept me pedaling each day. I hadn’t been back to the College in 15 years. I knew if I could get to the East Coast, the isolation of the middle states would end. I finally made it to Richmond, Va., and was able to stay at the home of Kevin and Kate O’Hagan, both members of ’89. This was followed by a visit with John Forsythe ’89 in D.C., Neil O’Callaghan ’90 in Maryland, and riding the final leg of the route through Massachusetts with Tommy Scanlon ’88.

Q  Any final thoughts?

A  I never would have undertaken this ride if it wasn’t for my fond memories of Holy Cross and the lifelong friendships I made during my time on the Hill.  ■  

—by Christine Gemme