PORT ANGELES — A journey of 3,400 miles to New York state started with Mile 0 on the Waterfront Trail for Tom Swanson.
Swanson, a manager for Green Crow Corp., the Port Angeles-based timberland management company, began a cross-country bike ride Saturday at City Pier to raise funds for a scholarship for Port Angeles High School graduates.
His goal is a kitty of $100,000 for college-bound students.
His Pathway to Prosperity endowment will be administered through the Port Angeles Education Foundation.
So far, more than $35,000 has been raised through direct donations, with Green Crow pledging to ante up to $50,000 in matching funds,
An avid bicyclist, Swanson, 57, decided to combine his love of the spokes and his passion for education into a project that fulfills his dream of pedaling across the United States.
His goal is to make it to his childhood home of Panama in western New York state by the third week of July.
The tour began unofficially early Saturday morning at Hamilton Elementary School in Port Angeles.
Both of his now-adult children, Kane and Tally, attended school there.
But the big start was at the waterfront.
A crowd of more than 100 people gathered at Mile 0 of the Waterfront Trail to see him off, with more than a dozen bicyclists accompanying him for the first several eastbound
Swanson is undaunted by the long road ahead.
“It’s one mile at a time, one day at a time,” he said.
“I’ve been riding bikes all my life, but never on such a long tour. This is uncharted territory.”
Swanson’s intended “northern tier” route will take him across most of the northern U.S. and Midwest and eventually skirt the Great Lakes.
“Multiple one-day bicycle rides, and you put them all together,” he said.
Swanson said he hopes to make about 65 miles to 75 miles each day, with rest days built in along the way.
The goal of the first day Saturday was Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island.
Swanson said he expects a moment of Zen at the end of the road.
“It will be a sense of accomplishment and inner calm. And of joy,” he said.
Swanson’s wife, Robin, said she will follow in a support vehicle for the first four days, going as far as Tonasket, just south of the Canadian border in north-central Washington’s Okanogan County.
“I’m really proud of him. I’m really supportive of him and excited about it,” she said.
But she said her husband’s journey should not overshadow the ultimate goal of helping students.
“I think it’s really important that the message gets out that it’s the cause,” she said.
“It’s the awareness of funding education that should be the focus.”
Donations to the Pathway to Prosperity endowment can be made via http://tinyurl.com/pdn-bikeride.
Photographer/Writer Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5058, or email@example.com.