77-year-old cycles from Kansas City to Bristol — for the second time

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 6/20/24

A native Bristolian, John St. Angelo isn't letting 1,750 miles get between him and his 60th high school reunion.

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77-year-old cycles from Kansas City to Bristol — for the second time


If you think you’re a fan of the Lobster Pot, you’ve got nothing on John St. Angelo.

The 77-year-old native Bristolian is now into the last week of his 41-day, 1,750-mile pilgrimage from his home in Kansas City to Bristol, where he will partake in the 60th reunion of the Bristol High School Class of 1964, to be held at the Lobster Pot on June 27.

And if you think biking halfway across the country to chow down on some clam cakes and talk to a dwindling number of people from your high school graduating class is a little crazy, how about doing it twice? Because this will mark the 10-year anniversary since he did it the first time, to attend the 50th class reunion.

“I can’t really quite explain it,” said St. Angelo in a phone interview on Tuesday as he sat in a hotel room outside of Albany, N.Y. after a 40-mile day on the road. “I love Bristol and love coming back for reunions and it seemed like a nice physical challenge and a lot of fun.”

A “nice physical challenge” is certainly one way to put it, even more so when considering that St. Angelo is performing the entire ride on the same bike he used 10 years ago; a 15-year-old Fuji Touring. Unlike his wife of 55 years, Rosemary, who is joining him for the trip on her e-bike, the Fuji is 100 percent manually operated.

“We had southeasterly wind gusts from 20-30 mph today and when headed into it, no amount of drafting Rose on her e-bike did much good,” writes St. Angelo in the May 20 log of his running online journal of the trip. “Could barely move nor take my hands off the bars to drink. I swear I could hear the wind whistling in my ear, ‘Your e-bike is in the garage, moron.’”

But overcoming the natural and human elements — including unseasonable heat in Missouri that melted freshly laid tar on the road during their very first full day of riding, halting progress just seven miles from their first pit stop; driving rain and wind; and an aggressive Indiana driver who “buzzed” them (driving very close to them along the side of the road while going 55 miles per hour) on an empty road just to show his distaste for cyclists — is all part of the appeal of the journey.

“Every day we stop and find something enjoyable to see. We enjoy small towns and especially small towns’ attempts to get on the map with some kind of attraction — the cheesier the better,” he said. “Some days you spend in the pouring rain all day long, and you just kind of have to focus on your bike and the physicality all day long…But every day is different and enjoyable.”

An experienced triathlete and touring cyclist who, along with Rosemary, has cycled some of the most famed routes in the world, St. Angelo said the most difficult part of the journey is easily the logistics. He said the trip took weeks to plan out; with every stop, stay, and route meticulously calculated.

“We’re staying in hotels, not camping. So we have to find hotels available near the route so we don’t have a large amount of miles to cover at the beginning or end of the day. Then you need to be in proximity to places to eat,” he said, fittingly enough stepping away from the phone shortly afterwards to answer a food delivery at the motel door. “Sometimes you’ll get into these really small towns and there is literally nothing nearby to eat.”

St. Angelo was born in Bristol but moved away shortly after graduating high school when he went to college at Central Missouri State College. He was drafted into the Army in 1968, but opted to join the Air Force instead, getting stationed in Germany. Then he settled down in Kansas City, where he met Rosemary. With family still living in Barrington, and nothing but fond memories of his time in Bristol, he’s already looking forward to a taste of home, where he’ll stay with fellow Class of ’64 graduate and friend, Joe Travers.

“The first thing I do when I get to Bristol is I ride my bike from the Common on Mt. Hope Avenue down to the Andrews School,” he said. “I just ride around the areas I walked and played ball and did everything. It makes me feel so good and so grounded.”

You can follow St. Angelo’s full journey through his online journal at https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Bristol60.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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