Wheels of Fortune
By Jacob Baynham
For anyone thinking about cycling the breadth of the country in a month, Andy Gibson has a recommended meal for you: four eggs, toast, hash browns, a 12-oz. steak, a side of corn and mashed potatoes, a Texas toast ham and cheese melt, one double cheeseburger and two pieces of pie—in one sitting. That was a typical Waffle House meal for Gibson, anyway, during his 32-day, 3,000-mile cycling trip from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., in December. “I was eating so many calories it was like I was literally fueling up a car,” he says.
When he finally dipped his tires in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 27, he had checked off what he calls a “BHAG,” a big, hairy, audacious goal. (Shortly thereafter, he checked off a tray of lasagna and two meatloaves—singlehandedly.)
“I am someone who’s defined by goals,” Gibson says. “If I don’t have a goal that I’m working toward, I feel empty.”
In this case, the goal wasn’t entirely his own. He was also raising money for his friend, Ashley Thompson, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Gibson served with Thompson on the Student Activities Council. “She’s always been this huge light bulb and sparkplug for our group of friends,” he says. “She’s always so positive.” He raised $4,500 toward her medical bills.
Gibson, a 2005 graduate in entrepreneurship and a brand manager at Procter and Gamble, worked holidays and bank-rolled a year’s worth of vacation to take this trip. He had exactly 32 days to finish the ride. “That amount of time off dictated my itinerary,” he says. “I knew that if there was a set, hard and fast deadline, I’d meet it. I put it all on the line and knew I had to do it.”
There was plenty of difficulty along the way, but now that he’s back in the office, and his metabolism has (almost) recovered, Gibson finds himself missing the journey.
“Every day when I got up in the morning, my purpose for that day was so simple,” he says. “Having that simplicity was really, really refreshing.”