|Baseball Fan Biking Nation’s Ballparks||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on August 24, 2011
Though baseball and cycling don't have much in common, one young man is linking these two sports together into an experience he'll never forget.
Darren O'Donnell, a 24 year-old Boise, Idaho, native, is biking cross country and stopping at all 30 MLB stadiums along the way. He recently graduated Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics/Accounting, but he decided this year would be a great time to accomplish this feat.
"I wanted to combine that interest with seeing all the Major League ballparks," said O'Donnell. "It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time."
Though he was forced to quit his job as a meat department manager at the Bellingham Food Co-Op, O'Donnell believes this tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As a lifelong baseball fan and cycling enthusiast, what better way to combine his two passions?
The journey started in Bellingham on April 8, as O'Donnell and 12 friends rode 100 miles to Safeco Field in Seattle. This was a perfect way to kick off the tour, as O'Donnell received tons of motivation from his fellow bikers.
From there, O'Donnell rode alone down the west coast, through the Bay Area and into the Southwest. He crossed through the Texas and eventually into Florida and Georgia.
The trip then continued throughout the whole northeast, with the latest stop coming at Fenway Park in Boston. He was even lucky enough to see a Red Sox triple-play. Eight stadiums remain, as O'Donnell will finish up through Toronto and the northern states before finishing up in St. Louis.
He said it was very difficult to juggle which teams were playing at home around the time he would be arriving in a particular city. Though he allowed himself some leeway, he set a stringent schedule that he hasn't strayed from one bit.
O'Donnell has relied heavily on his iPhone and Google Maps to navigate him across the country. For each stadium, he calculates the total mileage to the next stadium and divides it by the amount of days before the next game to find out how many miles he needs to go each day.
"I look at the big picture first and then break it down into smaller sections," O'Donnell said.
>Since there have been some days where O'Donnell has had to cover much ground but also other days when hasn't ridden at all, he's averaged approximately 100 miles per day over the 140+ days that he's been on the road.
Besides a few minor incidents, his bike has held up greatly the entire trip. As a result, he has been able to maintain his schedule without having to worry to timely repairs.
O'Donnell claims that he is taking this trip for four reasons: to promote the health, financial and ecological benefits of bike riding; to promote the benefits of local food cooperatives; to encourage people to support their local food banks; and to encourage the personal and social benefits of volunteering.
As he prepares for the last leg of the journey, O'Donnell is hoping for better weather through the Midwest.
"If I can get through this, I can pretty much get through anything," said O'Donnell. "I set my mind to doing this, and I'm doing it."
Check out the "Baseball Biking Tour" Facebook page to follow along with O'Donnell's trip.