By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Denis Beaudry camped in the Imperial city park last week. Unusual as that was, more unusual was the reason he was in Imperial at all.
The Reading, Mass., resident was working toward the completion of his 10,000 mile, around-the-world bicycle trip.
Alone, with no backup, he and his bike flew to Madrid, Spain from Boston on April 22. He then rode over the Pyrenees Mountains, skimmed down the coast of southern France, muscled through central Italy, then circled around Venice and on to the Black Sea.
That was his established route, allowing him to apply ahead of time for visas to Russia, Kazakhstan and China.
“I had a sense of how long it would take. If something went wrong, I could go to the next major town and fly home,” he said.
Things did go a bit wrong at that point. He got a “little nervous” about entering Russia. “You have an anxiety that your visa won’t be proper,” he commented.
But the real problem was in Kazakhstan. Machine-gun toting guards wouldn’t let him out of the country because he was missing one stamp on his passport. That cost him two days.
Bribery was also a way of life on those border crossings.
When he was moving through China, he got lost because he couldn’t read the road signs.
A lack of the languages wasn’t a problem, though, because, “Tourists need to eat and sleep. Those things get interpreted right away, so it was no problem.”
Beaudry spent 10 days in China bicycling with a young man who spoke a little bit of English. The young man, with all of his worldly goods contained in his backpack, was on a 2,000-mile ride to Shanghai.
He had left home and was going to find a job, “apply to college with zero contacts to start a new life,” Beaudry said.
Just over three weeks ago the 57-year old was in Shanghai. He then caught a plane to San Francisco, and is now “winging it” and using phone apps to plan his route, ultimate destination Boston.
Route 50 in Utah led him to Route 6 through Fort Collins, Colo., and “Here I am,” he said last Wednesday in Imperial. He averages 100 miles per day.
That leads to the Imperial city park. As all motels were filled, Beaudry contacted the police department to ask if he could camp anywhere. His tent and sleeping bag were on his bike, along with an air mattress.
The police told him he could locate at the park. It was fine until the sprinklers went on during the night.
This isn’t the first international trip Beaudry has taken. He’s cycled across Norway/Sweden, Morocco, Iceland, New Zealand, the Alaska Highway and three times across Europe.
They aren’t sight-seeing trips. “I have to accept that most of my adventures are meeting people. I wish I had all the time and money. So the only time I take in sights is when they’re right there in front of me,” Beaudry stated.
Biking like that takes a person out of their comfortable routine, he noted. “Nothing is routine. You don’t know what’s around the corner. You have to make decisions.”
He feels he has to make these trips alone. Tearing up, Beaudry said, “This is not a Mary Poppins bicycle ride. You’re on the edge sometime.”
Recalling biking in 115 degree temperatures across a China desert, with three bottles of water and no town in sight, Beaudry said those are the times he doesn’t tell his family about.
“I can handle it. I’ve been around,” he said.
Why does he push himself to make these trips? Beaudry, who’s a personal fitness trainer at a YMCA, said a couple of things fell into place to make the trip possible.
“Time, opportunity and money. How much longer will my health last? And I got the blessing of my girlfriend,” he said.
So, several weeks away from the end in Boston, eight tires and 12 inner tubes from the start, Beaudry has already begun his ultimate goal of giving talks on bicycle touring to libraries and civic organizations. He also hopes his experiences help his career.
Leaving Imperial last Wednesday morning, Beaudry noted that the wind was “blowing me east.” On Route 6 toward his goal.