Retired CIHS teacher, Mike Sorn, bikes across the country

Mike Sorn near the start of his ride, taking in the desert hills of the Southwest.
While most people see a bike and think “exercise,” retired Cambridge-Isanti High School math teacher Mike Sorn thinks of adventure.

On May 7, Sorn hopped on his bike and had the adventure of a lifetime when he completed his lifelong dream of biking across the country, from Los Angeles to Boston.
Sorn has become a biking fanatic over the years and loves the thrill of a long trip.

“I have been riding my bike now for about 20 years,” he added. “I’ve always like doing longer rides.”

Ever since Sorn got into long distance biking, there has always been a part of him that wanted to see how far he could take it.
“I’ve always had a little desire to see if I can make it across the country,” he said.

Sorn’s dream officially started five years ago when he found a group that would take him from Los Angeles to Boston on his bike in a safe and adventurous manner.

At the time, Sorn’s longest trip had been from Minneapolis to Chicago during a 500-mile ride. He knew he had to train harder then ever before to conquer this cross-country trip.

Sorn began his training in the summer of 2016. He was able to bike outside until around Thanksgiving time before the Minnesota winter forced him off the roads.

He was able to continue his training on a stationary bike until he was able to get back outside in late February.

“I biked 1,700 miles outside, and 900 inside before heading to L.A.,” he said.

Sorn had biked 2,600 miles preparing himself for the trip. Overall, that was still shy of the 2,983 miles he would have to ride to reach Boston.

On May 6, Sorn was up early in the morning to head to the airport. When he woke up, however, he saw something he did not expect.

“There were about 25 people out on my front lawn for a surprise send-off party,” he said. “It was really great.”

Once Sorn arrived in L.A., it was showtime. A group of 32 riders hit the road on May 7, with nine of them planning to ride all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the way, Sorn was able to get a close-up look at the vast changes in the American landscape.

He watched as the busy L.A. streets slowly turned into rolling hills and orange groves. After that, he experienced the beauty of the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.

“Those views, there were views in Vermont, too, where you can just see all the trees,” he added. “You have to believe in a higher power than yourself. It was just beautiful to see the whole country.”

Sorn and his fellow riders averaged 85 miles per day, with the shortest day being around 40, and the longest, 117. The riders all pushed one another to keep going despite how they felt.
Being on the road for over a month is a hard task. Sorn recalled several nights where he missed his wife and kids so much that it was difficult to continue.

Sorn, however, had his support system on the go and could interact with them at anytime. He logged much of his trip on Facebook, where his friends and family back home were able to read what he was doing each day and offer their support.

“There were nights when I went to my room and cried, and I thought I couldn’t do this,” he said. “I would see all the comments on Facebook, and all of the support, that was fantastic.”

Even though they were several hundred miles away, Sorn’s family and friends still had his back and were able to help him achieve his goal.

During the trip, the group kept a map of their progress. They would hang the map in the hotel lobby of wherever they were staying that night to show others what they were all doing.
Sorn mentioned that each day they would take a highlighter and mark the section they had just completed.

Once the trip was over, they used the map as an award for the most improved rider. Little did he know, Sorn’s friends had been taking notice of his hard work throughout their journey – so much so, they awarded him the map once they arrived in Boston.

Sorn was overwhelmed by the gesture, but he knew he did not do it alone. His friends from Britain, Tony and Harry, were a huge part to his success. The duo offered company, motivation and skills to change a flat tire.

Sorn believed that without them, this trip may have been near impossible. He presented them with the map to show how much he appreciated them throughout the trip.

For Sorn, the ride was not about racing to the finish. The ride was about proving to himself he had what it takes to reach his goals.

The ride was about making friends and taking chances. As he used to say to his students, “When life gives you a chance to dance, you dance – and that is exactly what I did.”