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Sam Morris had his own very personal response to getting furloughed during the pandemic.

While others might have hunkered down to wait for the call back to work, the 53-year-old Las Vegas News Bureau photographer hopped on his bicycle for an epic, 3,800-mile journey from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine.

“‘Well,'" Morris thought,"'now’s the time to do it.'"

Morris originally imagined his 60-day journey would happen in 2021, but the pandemicpressed the fast-forward button on his plans.

The genesis of Morris' bicycle love canbe traced to his rural hometown of Charles City, Iowa, where hechecked out bicycling books from the local library and discovered publications like Bicycling Magazine.

“I always liked bikes and had fun taking apart and rebuilding my Coast King single speed with banana seat, sissy bar and ape hanger handlebars,” Morris wrote in an adventure prologue he published on his Facebook page. “The idea of travelling under your own power and being self contained on a bike amazed me.”

Until this year, the longest rideMorris ever tookhappened in the 1980’s. On six occasions, he rode his bicycle seven days straight for RAGBRAI – Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

“But that’s like a seven day party on wheels, and all your stuff gets carried along for you, and it’s just fun,” Morris said. “This time I’m solo, and I’ve got everything I need with me.”

On July 5, he said farewell to his family, got on his Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle and set off from the Oregon coast.

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On Thursday, Morris left North Dakota and enteredMinnesota, where he'll visit friends. Then it's on toIowa, where he'll spend a few rest days with relatives.

Morris iscarrying a lot more than his body on his bike. He’s got a tent, camping equipment and food.

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The dangers of the pandemic have taken away the social elements that usually come with a cross-country bike trip.

“This whole thing has been a double-edged sword,” Morris said, “because a lot of the joy and fun in doing something like this is meeting people and being welcomed into their homes or hanging out at a bar and meeting characters, and that’s not going to happen that much.”

At the same time, the pandemic has afforded Morris the downtime to take his ride.

Morris has been using a social networking service called Warm Showers – a loose knit group of cyclists that host other cyclists on the road –to find places to bathe, eat and pitch a tent.

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If there's anything to learn from his journey, Morris said, it’s a lesson about seizing the moment when it's in front of you.

"It’s possible,” he said. “It isn’t anything insurmountable. The biggest factor is time."


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