Ever since he was a kid, Eden Prairie resident Mike Weinberger dreamed of taking a bicycle trip across the country. So, when his wife of 37 years, Nancy Jo, died in February 2017 from ovarian cancer, he decided it was time.
Nancy Jo — affectionately called Jo-Jo, thanks to a nickname given to her by one of the couple’s grandchildren — had for many years made care baskets to welcome new people into the neighborhood or to give to someone known to be going through hard times.
In honor of his late wife, Weinberger set a goal of making 250 baskets a year for people at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, for those at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, or for certain families at Thanksgiving.
“She was known for being a very loving and caring woman,” Weinberger added.
Weinberger recently completed the first phase of his cross-country bike trek, traveling from the Pacific Ocean in Washington to his cabin at Cross Lake, Minnesota.
His aptly titled website, “Minnesota Mike’s Ride Across America,” chronicles the journey. The trip is dedicated to raising funds for Baskets From JoJo, his family’s 501(c)(3) organization that gifts care baskets to cancer patients.
Along the way, he encountered many situations: some were mind-bogglingly beautiful, while others were challenging.
He began his trip on Aug. 23 in Everett, Washington. By the time he finished, he had pedaled 2,082 miles. Half the time, he camped out, and the other half, he stayed in local motels along the way.
With the trip starting out in Washington, he was the victim of the highly unusual hot weather, with temperatures in the 90s for several days.
On day eight, a big rainstorm forced him off the road in Ion, Washington. A few days later, a large forest fire in the area slowed him down.
He calls his trek through Glacier National Park in Montana the most exhilarating part of the trip.
“A couple of times, I found myself in the middle of nowhere and was either low or completely out of water,” he said.
He experienced three flat tires along the way, which he repaired himself with a special kit he was carrying.
He headed back to his Eden Prairie home on Sept. 25.
“My plan is to complete phase two either next year or the following,” he added. “I will start out from my cabin in Cross Lake and bike to Bar Harbor, Maine.”
His future plans also include a bike trip through Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, as well as Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa.
He adds that 100 percent of the proceeds go toward creating the baskets.
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