Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Amazing Randy Thompson

The magic of traveling by bicycle are occasional encounters with people with extraordinary personal stories. On this trip, we had one such encounter with Randy Thompson at the San Lorenzo County Park Campground in King City.

When I first saw Randy riding in on his bright red Nashbar touring bike, I couldn't believe my eyes. He came rolling in with a humongous load stacked high on his rear rack. In addition to four panniers, he had a large "tupperware" plastic box stacked on top of a wooden box with more gear stacked above that.

He ambled over and asked if he could camp with us and since we had a big site, I told him no problem and he could set up his tent anywhere on the lawn.

After he set up his tent and settled in, my curiosity got the best of me and I approached him and had to ask, "what's your story?"

His personal story is nothing short of amazing. He said he was 67 years old and for the last 10 years was incapacitated with a mysterious illness. A electrician by trade, he got so weak that he had to stop work and could hardly walk and get around.

Long story, short. He finally met a doctor who correctly diagnosed his illness as Celiac disease which is an auto-immune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. In short, the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.

Prior to the diagnosis, he was near death and his weight ballooned to 260+ lbs. In the last year after changing to a gluten free diet, he lost 100 lbs. and now weighs a svelte 160 lbs.

He has regained his health, strength and vigor for life. His diet now consists primarily of fruits and vegetables. Today, he had a head of cabbage for lunch.

He is an avid cyclist and always desired to go on a major tour. He has parents in their 90's living in Canada and he decided to ride his bike from Southern California where he lives to Canada to visit his folks.

So far, he has made about 400 miles of a 2,000 mile journey. A novice cycle tourist, he started his trip carrying 140 lbs. of gear, a 100 lbs. more than what I carry. But quickly he started jettison unneeded gear after he had to push his bike uphills. He is still hauling about 100 lbs. He admits, his journey is a on-the-job learning experience.

With the landslides on Hwy 1 closing through traffic, he had to make detours into the interior valleys to work his way north. On his last leg, he was riding the shoulder of busy Hwy 101.

I gave him a couple AAA maps of the Montery/Santa Cruz/SF areas so he could find secondary roads more suitable for bicycles.

Randy's story is another example of one's health is No. 1. Everything else is secondary.

Good luck to you Randy Thompson! You are a remarkable man with an amazing story and you are living your dreams. May you have a safe and successful journey to Canada.

More views of Randy's "Tupperware Express"

The white thing is a wooden box

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