Rienstra plans bike trek from Zimmerman to Alaska

by Nathan Warner
Contributing writer

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Jim Rienstra with his 54 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker bike. Submitted photo by Jason Iannazzo. Click here to read a related story on Rienstra.

James Rienstra’s blog, Pedaling for Pennies, banners the Serenity Prayer to consecrate his 3,000-mile journey from Zimmerman to Anchorage, Alaska in memory of his father, Wally Rienstra, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2006 at the age of 59. James hopes to raise $10,000 for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund with the feat and has currently raised $985 towards the goal, matching pennies to miles.

He will ride his 54 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker bike alone on the epic 70-day journey, departing from Westwood Elementary School in Zimmerman at 10 a.m. on May 20, where he will give a brief talk. Rienstra will bring everything he’ll need for the journey on his bike, amounting to 100 pounds of gear, including, food, spare parts, clothing, camping gear and a good book. A car escort will follow him to Sauk Centre, where he will cycle west into North Dakota and Montana. From there, Rienstra will turn north through Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon in Canada, until he pedals into Anchorage in the beginning of August, if all goes according to plan.

When he’s not pedaling, he intends to update his blog daily to let visitors know how many miles he’s traveled, how many more he has to go, and how he is faring physically and mentally, while also detailing each day’s ride, his sightseeing experiences, and pass on other stories that come his way. Among the many dangers Rienstra may face on his journey are bears, which will be coming out of hibernation and are particularly aggressive and hungry this time of year. He has had several encounters with bears in the past and will judge any meeting carefully, while keeping a stash of bear spray handy just in case.

So, why Alaska? Rienstra has pictures on his blog of trips he’s taken to Alaska which he calls his “favorite place ever,” but more importantly, the best two weeks of his life were spent there with his father, fishing at the foot of Mount McKinley. He says it was the first time he saw his father as the man, Wally Rienstra, and not simply as his dad. The trip was James’ last vacation and the last time his father traveled before the illness.

Jim Rienstra’s plan calls for biking from Zimmerman, Minn. to Anchorage, Alaska, via this route. He hopes to raise $10,000 in the process.

Rienstra says his cycling journey is to honor Wally Rienstra as his father and as his friend. He encourages everyone “to be the change you want to see in the world.”

To make a tax-deductable donation to help Rienstra reach his goal of $10,000 for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, visit his Web site at www.minnesota2alaska.blogspot.com and click the donation link or mail a check to Pedaling for Pennies, 26721 150th St., Zimmerman, Minn. 55398.

Visit the Star News’ Web site for updates on James’ journey or visit his blog at www.pedalingforpennies.info.

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