In a matter of hours, Paul Neal’s return ride with history will be done.
The 68-year-old Rock Hill cyclist is mere miles from reaching Los Angeles – and the end of his 3,000-mile solo journey across the country.
The current ride is his second east-west crossing, and it comes 50 years after he made his first. While Neal set out on the anniversary of the very day he rode out of Rock Hill as a teenager, he will finish two days sooner. In biking parlance, the older Neal dropped “The Kid” somewhere west of the Mississippi River.
According to his Facebook posts, Neal considered quitting only once – in Arizona when he rode in temperatures north of 115 degrees, he was forced to mine highway overpasses for shade, and he had to guzzle his water bottles before the contents got too hot to drink.
After crossing into California, he battled through more extraordinary temperatures – 122 degrees at one point, according to his Rock Hill-based support team – steep climbs, and a GPS device that occasionally had him going in circles. Yet he woke up Monday morning with only 60 miles to ride.
Neal will be back in Rock Hill later this week – willing at long last, as he said before the trip, to begin acting his age.