Kaukauna native Ken Lettau has begun his bike ride from the state of Washington to Kaukauna.
The Kaukauna High School graduate is hoping to make it to his hometown in time for his 50th high school reunion June 15.
Lettau of Richland, Wash., will travel 2,001 miles in the year 2001 to reach his destination and celebrate his 50th anniversary reunion with his classmates from the KHS Class of 1951.
A two-time cancer survivor, Lettau is using the trip to "witness to the infinite and amazing grace of God" to all those with whom he comes in contact during the bike trip as well as to those at the reunion.
Several articles about his life and decision to bike to the KHS reunion and the first leg of the trip April 27-29 have appeared in recent issues of The Times.
Ken biked from North Bend to Richland, Wash., for a total of 190 miles in late April in order to meet his stated goal of "2,001 miles in 2001." The remainder of the trip from Richland to Kaukauna began May 17.
"Yahoo maps identify the total miles from North Bend to Richland as 188.9 and from Richland to Kaukauna as 1,821.6 miles for a trip total of 2,010.5 miles. We will be putting on additional miles from the high ways to the motels and back, so I'm confident we'll be well over the desired 2,001 miles," he said.
Lettau is accompanied by his son, Randy, and grandson, Joe. Randy's twin, Ralph, also joined the men for the first couple of days of the second leg of the trip.
The group hopes to average about 70 miles a day over the course of the trip. They have allowed 28 calendar days, 26 of which will be on the road. That leaves only two days for any possible problems and/or bad weather.
The men are staying at a motel each evening in order to get a shower and a good evening meal as well as a good night's sleep.
Following are excerpts from a journal Lettau is keeping of his trek. The journal and photographs taken along the way are posted on a Web site: www.lettau.com.
May 17, 2001 - We got up at 4:30 a.m. and were ready for the other bikers, friends and well-wishers. We did the group photos, had a group prayer and headed out at 6:20.
Going out of Richland freelance photographer Gary Cook was waiting for us on GWWay to take photos as we passed by.
It was a cool morning at 42 degrees and there was just a bit of a breeze.
There was a lot of early morning worker traffic in the Tri-Cities and we felt like we were in rush hour traffic and needed to be very careful.
As we went out 395 we were met by Ted Johnson, a biking and bowling friend from Pasco. Ted rode with us until about 10 when his wife picked him up with the car. The boys and I enjoyed his company and conversation.
Our freelance photographer friend stayed with us until 11. Gary kept driving ahead and showing up at the strangest places waiting with his camera at the ready.
We continued to put on miles all day as we saw rabbits, coyote pups, hawks, curlew, meadowlarks and marmots.
We picked up a nice tail wind along the way and really didn't have as bad a day as we could have but we quickly realized that we were in for a long day.
May 18, 2001 - Got my first ticket ever on a bike today.
We came down the "big" hill into Spokane without noticing a sign at the Geiger Field exit that you cannot ride the Interstate between there and Broadway out on the east side.
We were pulled over at the bottom of the hill and all four of us received $71 violation tickets. It was a great ride down the hill but not really worth that kind of a price.
We then had to get off on the side streets and work our way through town to where we could get back on legally.
We got to "enjoy" Spokane's potholes and ongoing street repairs as we even had to ride a mile of gravel on work in progress.
A neat, great thing happened when we finally found this onramp: We met a fellow there who was obviously down on his luck.
He was a biker and was very interested in my very different and special BikeE. We talked about it and I told him of our stated purpose for this to become a witnessing trip to the amazing grace of our awesome God.
He started to cry at that and we learned that he was a Christian who had been having a hard time in his life recently and had given up on God.
We pulled out our little New Testament and went through a few scriptures and Joe and I had a prayer with him. He thanked us and joined in the prayer that God would be real in his life again.
May 19, 2001 - We were into Idaho in an hour and stopped to take a group photo at their sign. We were very impressed, as always, with the beauty of Coeur d'Alene Lake. It was extra special today with the wind-whipped white caps covering it.
Immediately thereafter we found oursleves on the long climb up to Fourth of July pass.
It was nasty up on top and even began to share a little mountain spring storm rain with us.
We put on our jackets and took off on the speedy and enjoyable downhill side. It always makes the hard climbs seem almost worth it all.
I must admit that I did have to walk the last two miles up. It was a tough climb and I just didn't have enough gears and legs.
The boys were graceful and joined me in my morning jaunt. We rode next to little creeks and crossed the Coeur d'Alene River.
We decided to make a stop at the old mission at Cataldo. This is said to be the oldest building in the state of Idaho.
Then it was only 10 more mostly downhill miles to this day's Kellogg, Idaho, destination.
We found another Super 8 and, after sharing our story with the desk clerk/manager, I am typing today's journal to you from a very nice, upgraded suite at the regular room fee.
He was very impressed with what we are doing and that we are doing with all of you as a family.
May 20, 2001 - Ralph left us today after cycling with us since we left my Richland, Wash., home Thursday morning. His wife, Mary, drove over and picked him up, as he needed to be back at work Monday morning.
Our climb up Lookout Pass started very shortly after leaving Kellogg at about 7:10 this morning. It was a long, slow, drawn-out climb.
We (I) did OK until we hit Mullen, Idaho, and then the climb got serious as we saw the sign informing us we were now 12 miles from the summit.
I worked very hard for the next six miles and then had to give up and walk. The boys alternately walked with me or rode. They were in their lowest gears and even with their younger, much stronger legs, they admitted it was extreme.
The last two miles I got to where I changed my goals and was down to counting 100 steps pushing my BikeE before I would stop for a quick breather.
I have to confess that it wasn't the fault of the BikeE with its 27 gears but just my old legs not being up to the task.
We did finally get to the 4,680-foot high summit and took a big lunch and rest beak.
A Yakima man stopped his motorhome next to us and we visited about the Mariners' latest games and "back home."
We were now in Montana as the state line is also at Lookout Pass and were now in the Mountain Time Zone as well. We were still 33 miles from St. Regis so we were all very to happy to hit the downside of the pass.
We almost had a problem as Joe's back tire developed what he described as a bumping feel. Upon inspection we discovered that the tire bead had popped out for a length of about four inches.
Why it didn't let the inner tube squeeze through and cause a blowout we did not know except that the "bubble of prayer" you folks have been praying around us protected us again.
We let out some of the air and were able to work the bead back on, air it up and were on the way down the hill again in less than 15 minutes.