One man multi-state bike trek moves through Journal territory

Posted 6/23/21

“Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to Shorewood, Wisconsin,” avid multistate bicyclist Tobias Egan recently announced on Facebook, his hair drenched with rain. “This place outside the City …

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One man multi-state bike trek moves through Journal territory


“Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to Shorewood, Wisconsin,” avid multistate bicyclist Tobias Egan recently announced on Facebook, his hair drenched with rain. “This place outside the City of Milwaukee with this landing that looks out down upon Lake Michigan will serve as the 15th pit stop for Trek 11,” he said.

Ok you say, so what’s all that got to do with my everyday life in Minnesota and the nine to five grind?

Among the other possible connections is that Egan came through Cottage Grove Journal territory prior to reaching Milwaukee on bicycle. Indeed, he passed through South Washington County before turning south to travel on through Hastings, having started the current installment of a long-distance bike trip he calls “The Trek” in Morenci, Michigan on May 4 of this year, then winding through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, recrossing the state border at Onalaska after making his way through Journal territory to the north. Updates are regularly posted to his Facebook page at “Tobias Egan.”

Currently on leg 16 of Trek 11 in Wisconsin, Egan started the long-running ‘Trek’ series back in June of 2011, not for profit nor personal attention, but instead the thrill of the ride, along with a hope to open minds, helping others be more visible. Along the way he has met with good and bad, and occasionally been woken up in the middle of the night by police, and others. One wake-up call better than most happened in early June outside the Marshan Town Hall.

“There was no ID check,” 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 toward the start of June. 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.

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 cops 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 tenyear anniversary after starting back in June of 2011, Egan’s past Treks are chronicled in part on his YouTube channel, uslixirish.

But whereas a past bicycle crash and lost data has limited the Trek’s past record somewhat, Egan’s journey goes on. In early June, he 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. Then there was leg 16.

“…A very taxing leg,” Egan shared of the South Wisconsin entry to. “Rain was coming down. I ended up getting drenched yesterday,” he shared with Trek fans who tune in to his Facebook travel updates. “Wow, what a leg—that is now just a memory,” he said of southern Wisconsin.

Shifting back north and earlier this month with the brief move through South Washington County, Egan first took the detour south of River Falls on Highway 29/35, saying that he had started Trek 11 after finding himself in a situation that he didn’t like, with a person 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. Instead of Coke and Pepsi, for instance, a multitude of alternative drinks get the green light, from ordinary water to sports drinks like Body Amour. Kombucha, Keifer, Aloe Vera, and Bolthouse Farms are also in play. Fast food, meanwhile, is out (for the most part), while Kwik Trip and grocery store visits are in, especially 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 You-Tube 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 the multistate Trek 11, Egan’s route through Journal territory and beyond crossed 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, Huggies and Pampers diaper wipes are much appreciated as helpful Trek items, 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.

“Anything that can help would be appreciated,” he said of those who might meet him. But with Trek 11 due to end soon at the Midwest and Trek 12 potentially postponed to work on his music and creative writing (Egan is also a writer), what comes next on trek, could be anyone’s guess. Stay tuned, and check out Egan’s regular updates at “Tobias Egan” on Facebook—you read it here.