Meet Tom Baltes

P1040388Hi, I’m a healthy 62 year old, despite some osteoarthritis in several joints.  I’m married to Louise, my best friend of 40 years and we’re both happily retired and live an active lifestyle.  I’m from a family of five children–two have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), two of us have osteoarthritis and one has had two hip replacements.  Late in 2014 after turning 60 I got the wild idea to challenge myself with a bike ride across the US along a northern tier route.  Louise said go for it and offered to be my support driver. Although I’m not an avid biker I do enjoy riding and have ridden the 363-mile Oregon coast twice with the Arthritis Foundation in 2012 and 2013, as well as many rails-to-trails routes.  Along our journey, Louise will no doubt be on her bike to join me for some segments as our country is too beautiful not to slow down and enjoy.

(For those who followed our journey, we completed the northern tier ride in 2015 in grand style.  It was such a wonderful experience that we’ve decided to tackle the 3000 mile southern tier route from 13 Nov to 17 Dec)

As so often happens on a big adventure like this, I began looking for a greater purpose and decided it should be to raise funds and awareness for two programs that are important to me:  first, the Arthritis Foundation, which does outstanding work to help those with arthritis, such as my two siblings with RA and second, Volkssporting, which is a worldwide program for walking, biking, swimming, and other activities that Louise and I have enjoyed since 1980.  Through Volkssporting we have walked more than 35,000 kilometers in over 20 countries and in all 50 states.  We truly find it a rewarding program for keeping fit, while meeting wonderful people along the way and for enjoying the world from the ground level.  Louise and I feel our walking and biking helps us fight off the debilitating effects of arthritis and we want to help spread the word that this program is free and available to everyone.  The national website is the best starting point to learn more about the program and find a local club or walks to enjoy:  http://www.ava.org.

In this blog I plan to document the work I’ll do to prepare for this 4,260-mile ride and once the trip begins Louise and I will record my day-to-day progress.  Our trip will begin on 16 August from Seaside OR and if all goes according to plan we’ll reach Portland ME in the first or second week of October. Several friends and family members plan to ride segments with me, so I’m really looking forward to the great time together and motivation they’ll provide.  My brother Ken has been a national and regional Arthritis Foundation board member for a number of years and has helped pave the way for me to work on fund raising for their great work.  Also providing great encouragement and connection to the AF staff is David Shuey, who has served the Foundation in various capacities, including National Board Chair.  David preceded me by a couple years in doing a similar biking tour across America and is currently writing a book about his journey.   I know it will be both interesting and informative for all readers.  (For more on the Foundation’s work go to this site:  http://www.arthritis.org.)

After searching the internet for routes and reports on how to plan a trip across America I stumbled onto the Adventure Cycling Association from Missoula MT of all places.  They have compiled an exceptional collection of route maps with turn-by-turn directions and loads of information about services, points of interest and much more along the way.  Without a doubt they are the premiere source in America for bike trip planning.  To learn more about what they offer visit http://www.adventurecycling.org.

8 thoughts on “Meet Tom Baltes

  1. Happy Birthday yesterday Louise! Congrats to both of you on your amazing trip thus far. Best wishes on the rest of your journey! Love- Rob, Shirley & Tiana

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    1. Thank you dear friends! All is well and today we made great progress with an easterly direction on flatter ground. Got to love IL farm country! Hugs and best wishes back to you. Tom and Louise

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  2. Hi Tom ~ Heartiest congratulations on finishing your TransAmerica bike trip. My name is Lehman Holder and I’m also a cyclist. I lead bike outings for my local (Loo Wit) Sierra Club group in Vancouver, WA, and serve on our group executive committee (excom). When you arrive back in Vancouver, I would appreciate an opportunity to talk with you about doing a program for our group at our holiday party on Dec. 5. You can call me at (360) 901-0861. My email is below.

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