One man multi-state bike trek moves through Journal territory Tobias Egan on quest to open minds, help others see the less fortunate By Joseph Back Empowered multistate avid bicyclist Tobias Egan …
One man multi-state bike trek moves through Journal territory Tobias Egan on quest to open minds, help others see the less fortunate
By Joseph Back
Empowered multistate avid bicyclist Tobias Egan likes Karuba Coffee—especially after reaching a pit stop from a long and exhausting journey pedaling the countryside. Mind you, not all experiences on the road are as pleasant or refreshing as Karuba—like getting woken up in the middle of the night, sometimes by police. One wake-up call better than most happened just recently outside the Marshan Town Hall.
“There was no ID check,” long-distance bicycle rider Tobias Egan said of being woken up as he slept overnight recently at the Marshan Town Hall in Dakota County, Minnesota, located just south of Hastings. The budget-conscious Egan had taken time out for sleep after crossing over the state line at Prescott and passing briefly through South Washington County before turning south to pass through Hastings in the dark.
Prior to riding through Hastings, Egan had previously journeyed through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin before crossing the border at Prescott. Egan calls the journey that he is currently on installment 11 of what he calls “the Trek,” which started in June of 2011. Egan said the people who woke him up outside the Marshan Town Hall asked if he was ok and gave him provisions but were out of uniform if police, which is certainly better than some stops he gets outside churches and other impromptu camping spots by law enforcement.
As an example, one church east of Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Highway 10 had given him permission to use the outside of their building to sleep last month, but he was still woken up at one in the morning by uniformed officers wanting to know who he was and what he was doing, the sort of “move along, please,” treatment that can happen if you’re new in town and the police are called.
Another time after Hastings at Northfield, Minnesota this “really cool guy” from a local church was going to let Egan come home and take a much-needed shower while doing laundry, until the man’s wife had stopped him—which didn’t help given the extreme heat and other factors that Egan had endured on the Trek.
Egan says, meanwhile, that the provisions from those who stopped at the Marshan Town Hall were appreciated. Gift cards are especially useful for someone like him traveling on little more than a backpack and a budget. Egan said he particularly appreciated things like Kwik Trip or Kwik Star gift cards, as traveling on a budget wasn’t easy.
Now approaching the ten-year anniversary after starting back in June of 2011, Egan is currently on what he calls Trek 11, which started on May 4 of this year in Morenci, Michigan. His current trek can be followed at his site “Tobias Egan” on Facebook, with past treks 1 through 5 on You-Tube at the channel uslixirish.
But whereas a past bicycle crash and lost data has limited the Trek’s record somewhat, the journey goes on. Earlier this June, Egan passed briefly through South Washington County from Prescott, before turning south through Hastings and Cannon Falls on the multistate journey powered only by two-legged pedaling.
Although the detour south of River Falls on Highway 29/35 wasn’t his favorite, the one-time owner of three used cars before making the switch in transportation said that he started Trek 11 after finding himself in a situation that he didn’t like, with a someone else from Pennsylvania on drugs and another just out of prison, after Egan had previously had to relinquish an apartment within Pennsylvania due to the coronavirus shutdowns of last year. Rather than stay in the bad living situation, Egan soon decided it was time to hit the road again, though not without a cost in terms of comfort.
“I was freezing cold on the streets of Ohio,” he shared of pre-Trek 11 after exiting a bad situation in search of something better. Given a bike for Trek 11 that has now been through six states (we first caught up with Egan somewhat east of Pierce County, Wisconsin), Egan shared that there was a religious aspect to the Trek and his life as well.
“I believe God allows this Trek…and utilizes it to teach me things on the road,” he shared. The self-professed Christian who believes in keeping himself pure before marriage (and is looking for a girlfriend) said that the long-running “Trek Series” was “a multistate, mostly bicycle course,” although Trek 8 in 2017 had started out on foot.
“Back in 2017 I thought, ‘why not start out on foot?” Egan shared of the part planned, part unplanned long-running Facebook series, now partially archived on YouTube.
“Let the road sort things out,” Egan said of the path he’s set out on, which can travel 60 miles a day on longer stretches. Egan also shared that he has a physical Bible he’s protective of along with maps, stopping here and there along the way. Egan also said he finds himself speaking his mind on the current journey, rather than holding back on self-expression.
“I don’t find myself holding back,” he said of sharing opinions on the journey with multiple “pit stops,” where he rests from the journey at hand.
Included in Egan’s expressed opinions are what he considers to be an overly car-dependent society in the United States that contributes to things like obesity, depression, and self-esteem issues. Once 200 pounds himself but since slimmed down, Egan shared that the Trek had “rescued me in a way” from having both weight issues and poor health. The road quickly teaches what is and isn’t good for one’s body, with Coke, Pepsi, and high fructose corn syrup more generally as no-nos, while ordinary water and sports drinks like Body Amour are helpful. Fast food is also out (for the most part), while Kwik Trip and grocery store visits are in, the latter good for finding deals.
Speaking of which, there can also be a negotiation aspect involved sometimes on the budget conscious multistate journey, with campsites and motels, but also church lawns and the local town hall for resting spots.
“You find yourself looking for dimes, nickels, and pennies,” Egan said of life on the road.
Currently unsponsored but hoping to obtain these with both a Facebook and YouTube audience to reach, Egan also said there were lessons the Trek taught that couldn’t necessarily be learned off the road—like the importance of diaper wipes in lieu of regular showers to help keep clean.
So what can go on in the Trek more generally? With each “Trek” preceded by a slightly more leisurely “pre-Trek,” Egan shared some of his background as to how he got started on such a monumental undertaking.
“I grew up in another part of the country,” Egan shared of his Northeastern U.S. roots, “and biking wasn’t really accepted.”
Going on to say that as a younger person he would take long walks and bike rides, Egan said that bicycling wasn’t currently advertised as being fun or cool, something he looks to change. Being given a bike prior to the start of Trek 11 and then starting out from Michigan to continue through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and into Wisconsin with a pit stop at River Falls, Wisconsin, Egan moved next into Minnesota, crossing the bridge at Prescott, Wisconsin to move on through Hastings, Cannon Falls, Northfield, St. Charles, and Winona, then back into Wisconsin with visits to and/or rides through Trempealeau and Onalaska.
“Trempealeau was important because there were storms and lightning,” he said, forgoing a hotel in the meantime. Tentatively looking to do a loop through the middle of the state and then north along Lake Oshkosh before heading back west to Eau Claire, Egan said that after giving the city whose French name translates as “Clear water” in English a second chance (his first visit wasn’t ideal), he planned to turn north “and take this thing where it’s never been,” he said of the multistate Trek series.
Potentially crossing back into Minnesota at Superior/Duluth, Egan looks to eventually head to the Pacific West Coast after visiting Iowa and the Dakotas—and possibly Nebraska as well—before finally traveling on to California, where the fan of Nickelodeon as it was in the 1990s (even patterning Trek announcements on network ad breaks) wants to go see the filming site of “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” a show about a girl with special powers. But while Nickelodeon of old was punctuated with advertising breaks to help pay production costs, Egan is currently shouldering the total financial cost of his Facebook-chronicled journey—to which many viewers look forward to, he shared.
“I think this is their happy place,” Egan said of those who watch on Facebook and YouTube, the latter with Treks 1 through 5 archived. “This is the show they’ve been waiting for,” he said, “and they’re getting it for free.”
In the meantime, and if you see him, Huggies and Pampers diaper wipes are much appreciated, along with Kwik Trip and Kwik Star gift cards. He is after all, on a budget, and having effective means to keep clean as well as get food and lodging helps the Trek series to continue on for viewer enjoyment, if nothing else.