Carmel Valley resident completes cross-country bicycle trip

Stanger in Florida at the end of his journey.

After riding around the local roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmel Valley resident Neville Stanger recently completed a coast-to-coast bicycle ride.

Stanger, who turns 70 in September, departed from Ocean Beach on March 6 and arrived in St. Augustine, Florida, on May 3.

“I was stuck here in COVID not doing anything, and I was riding my bike a bit,” said Stanger, who has lived in Carmel Valley for 20 years and been cycling since he was a child. “I was riding up and down Torrey Pines. I finally got quite fit but totally fed up with being stuck at home, so I thought if there’s ever a good time to do this, it’s now.”

The ride got off to an inauspicious beginning. His first night camping, his airbed failed and temperatures were below freezing at night. Some of the sights he saw were the deserts of California, Arizona and New Mexico; Marfa, Texas, known for its alleged UFO sightings; and farmland in Louisiana.

“After two weeks, it just rolls by,” said Stanger, who estimated that he lost about 20 pounds during those first few weeks.

Riding about 20 to 120 miles per day, depending on the weather, wind and other factors, Stanger was fortunate enough to avoid injuries throughout the two-month trek. He did encounter loose dogs, sandstorms and rainy days. He spent his nights camping, watching movies on his iPad.

Some of his top memories include camping in Texas, southern hospitality as he rode through the Deep South, and joining another rider from Santa Barbara on the final legs of the trip.

Stangland said he would recommend the journey to others.

“I think it’s not nearly as difficult as you think it is, and it’s a fantastic amount of fun,” he said. “It’s probably the most exciting, fulfilling, interesting adventure I’ve ever had in my life.”