July 5, 2001

Biker Concludes Ride To All 114 Missouri Counties With Stop In Memphis

Scotland County was the final destination in the travels of a Kansas City biker who pedaled into Memphis June 27, reaching the last of the state's 114 counties.

Mike Blaser attained his goal of riding through every county in the state, a mission that originally started in 1981. He said his first idea was to stop and take a picture of the benchmark at each county seat, but he gave up this idea when it proved nearly impossible to find some benchmarks.

"In Ironton in Iron County, I think I had the whole county government helping me look for the benchmark," said Blaser. "The local surveyor was not in town the day I was there, and no one else knew where to look, but that didn't stop us from looking. I took up several hours of several county officials time that day to no avail so I gave up that idea soon after that fiasco."

But besides the benchmark idea, Mike said he didn't have any real goal behind the plan. He wasn't riding to raise money or to bring attention to any cause.

However, now that he has made it to every county in the state he said he might write a letter to the editor of the Kansas City paper to make citizens of the state's big cities aware of some of the hardships that the state's rural communities experience.

He started off in his home region of Jackson County before traveling to Cass County. The shortest leg of the 114 county route was Hickory County, which was a short three-mile stretch near the village of Harper while Blaser was on a 75-mile ride across that region. His longest trip on the route was a one-day 200-mile excursion that took him 15 hours and 31 minutes to complete as he crossed Carroll, Saline, Lafayette and Ray counties.

The mission has several personal standards set in place to govern the trips. Blaser's main rule was he had to travel at least 40 miles per day for a trip through a county to count on his overall plan to cover the entire state.

On his final trip, he and three friends biked from Lancaster to Memphis before noon and then went on to Edina for the night. He was accompanied on this final leg of the Missouri Counties Trek by Colette Eastwood, Elise Ray and Steve Price.

"Of course I couldn't have done this riding without them," Blaser said of his companions. "They have also been with me on several of the other rides."

The travels have added up along the way. Mike has ridden more than 60,000 miles on his current bike. He has ridden across Missouri five times (four times east to west and once from north to south. He has traveled across Iowa six times and has ridden in New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Mississippi as well as in two foreign countries, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

Blaser admitted that the bike travel does involve some intricate planning.

"On all the rides that I go on, I try to plan them so that almost half of the ride is downhill," he said.

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