Man Starts Biking From Coast To Coast To Lose Weight And Save His Marriage.

When a person hits rock bottom it can be awful hard to climb back up again. I know. I’ve been there.

Eric Hites, of Danville, Indiana, hit rock bottom. It was back in 2014. He lost his job, collection agencies were in hot pursuit of him, and his wife left him for another man. Yeah. That’s rock bottom. And he had really let himself go… weighed a painful 567 pounds. He was miserable.

Then, while the song “I’m Gonna Be”…. otherwise known as 500 miles, was playing on the radio, it hit him. The song by The Proclaimers talks about walking 500 miles to be with someone. Well, there was no way Eric could do That. But, he could, possibly… use a bike to get him from one coast to the other…. 3,000 miles… to prove his devotion to his wife.

And by doing this, he could lose a chunk of that burdensome weight. AND he could see the beauty of the country in all its glory. So Eric created a blog called “Fat Guy Across America,” and he started exercising. Then, he called his wife and told her what he was about to do. She thought he was nuts.

He bought a used Mongoose mountain bike from a friend for 17 bucks… wow, that’s a real friend… and he pedaled it for 100 yards to test it out. He was completely out of breath. But he kept at it. Then he set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for his epic journey. He had his father drive him east to Falmouth, Massachusetts. He had $200 and his bike was hitched to a trailer with a tent and 300 pounds of supplies.

Four months later, he reached New York. And he had lost 70 pounds. His Facebook followers were growing, although some said his trip was some kind of elaborate scam. But it wasn’t. Eric shook it off and continued. He gave interviews and was on TV, and New York’s Naked Cowboy even composed a song in his honor on the spot. There was a lot of hoopla involved. But Eric was just hoping that maybe he could write a book out of it and get a little money from it to take care of some things. And he continued.

His 37-year-old wife, Angie, was waiting for him near Yankee Stadium, and she joined him. They rekindled there love for each other and were no longer estranged. Ya know, I could write a song about this now… MOVE OVER, Nekkid Cowboy….. and he continued….(ahem…)… THEY continued.

Angie told Eric she would continue to use her maiden name until he reached the Pacific Ocean… did that to give him more motivation…. I wonder if that helped. But she passed out while biking one morning from a heatstroke. Gave up biking with him and followed him in a car after that.

They were takin’ America by storm…. GIT OFF MY BIKE, Nekkid Cowboy…. Ok, it was just a memory by now…. Eric and Angie would say “I love you,” a lot during that special time of relationship fixin’. Kids were yelling at Eric, rooting him on… “You can do it!!” they would say. And Eric would yell back “You don’t even know who I am…… but thanks anyway. And he continued…. He wasn’t in any big hurry. He wanted to see a lot of different things on his wild journey. It was silly to just try to complete it in a straight line.

Says Eric: “Everybody always says ‘I thought you were trying to get across the United States.’ I say I am, but I didn’t say I was racing.”’

And Eric, the heavy smoker that he was, was cutting back on cigarettes… way back. And he was starting to feel better. And even though he was losing a lot of weight, he couldn’t help the occasional stop at a White Castle. But hey, who could? He was still riding and committed to making that journey, and he was looking so much better. And Angie definitely noticed that. He was determined to see this long ride through. Thought of himself as the Fat Forrest Gump.

When people pushed him on the word “fat,” he said “People need to get over it. I’m fat and I’m calling myself fat. People are too worried about offending everybody. That’s what’s wrong with this country.” Ok… that’s what HE said. I didn’t say that. Said he wasn’t afraid of heavy traffic. “If they hit me,” he said. “It’ll be like hitting a cow.” Angie loved his outrageous courage. “He’s crazy,” she said. “He’s my hero.”

During his trip Eric battled ticks and spiders. He was stalked and screamed at by a fisher cat. A raven swooped down and stole his beef jerky. But still… he continued. His task was now really going viral, and when his Mongoose final gave out, with its tire rims bent beyond repair, a bicycle shop gave him a free replacement… a sturdy GT.

Television producers started contacting him. Eric was getting famous. Certainly not something he was expecting, but there it was. Some people would take him and Angie in and offer them their home for the evening, making them nice dinners and having great talks. Eric told them he’s not met a bad person on his whole trip and he said he would finish the trip or die trying. “If I fail, then I’m a fraud,” he said. He was definitely all in…still.

He and Angie stopped at his hometown in Indiana. Angie got baptized. She’d been waiting for that for a long time. They continued…. and they made it to Tallahassee, Florida… and then they made it to Dallas. And it looks like that’s where the journey ended, as far as I can tell. Looks like he ran out of money and resources. He didn’t quite make his goal, but he sure did give it a shot.

But what’s important… the most important thing of all… is he proved his undying devotion to his wife. And who knows…. maybe we’ll see his story in a movie some day. 

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