Outdoors

Tacoma’s Richard Dorsett tours Netherlands, Mississippi River by bike

Richard Dorsett at the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota. He followed the river by bike to St. Louis, then biked the Katy Trail across Missouri to Kansas City.
Richard Dorsett at the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota. He followed the river by bike to St. Louis, then biked the Katy Trail across Missouri to Kansas City. Courtesy

There are a couple of questions Richard Dorsett, a 62-year-old Tacoma resident, asks himself from time to time.

“What if?” And, “Why not?”

The answers usually lead to an adventure.

He spent six months in China. He worked at a trapeze academy in Maui for six weeks. He spent the summer of 2014 on an archeology expedition in Jordan.

Earlier this year he went to The Netherlands, where he biked 600 miles.

“I liked it so much, traveling solo, I put together this other adventure,” said Dorsett, who studied archeology at the University of Jordan.

The other adventure of which he speaks was inspired by the Katy Trail, which crosses Missouri, and a desire to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

He packed up his bike and hopped on a bus to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the river’s headwaters. From there he followed country roads tracking the river to St. Louis. From there, he followed the Katy Trail to Kansas City where he met up with his wife.

The trips sound big, but every block is a local block to somebody. I’m just putting them together. And when you put them together piece by piece it’s less intimidating.

Richard Dorsett, Adventurer

He estimates the trip covered about 1,300 miles. He returned home in late October and says he’s already eager for another adventure.

But, first, he carved out enough time to field a few questions:

Q: So, tell me about your trapeze background?

A: I saw this opportunity and I wrote them a letter telling them why they should hire a 60-year-old who had never done trapeze. They agreed and they flew me to Hawaii, and I got to learn how to work on a flying trapeze. They were all in their 20s, ripped with six-packs and I was the old guy. And I loved it. It’s kind of a hobby now.

Q: How does traveling inspire you?

A: Traveling compels me to write. So that’s kind of what I want to keep doing. Here’s the trick. If you take money out of the equation, you can write anything you want. This is writing for myself, but I get to share it with people. … I like to write something thematic where I can roll an idea around in my head for a few days. I send them (the essays) to a few friends and post them on Facebook, but they’re more for myself.

Q: What is it you enjoy about bicycling?

A: Cars are too fast. Hiking is too slow. I find the bicycle is just the right pace because I can do an easy day of 40 miles or I can push it and cover quite a lot of territory. The more I do it, the more tricks I learn. … I enjoy meeting people. People are so friendly. It seems like every day somebody did something nice for me.

Q: Besides traveling by bike, were the Mississippi and Netherlands trips comparable in any way?

A: The Mississippi trip was twice as long, but in some ways it was easier because I know how to navigate American roads. I took the bus (to the start of the Mississippi trip) because I wanted to ease into the trip. Getting off the bus it was just me, my bike and my tools. Amsterdam was the same thing. I went to the corner of the airport, put my bike together and pedaled out the door. The trips sound big, but every block is a local block to somebody. I’m just putting them together. And when you put them together piece by piece it’s less intimidating.

Q: What’s next?

A: My goal is to keep going. We’re all going to get sick and die at some point, but until that happens, I’m going to keep adventuring as much as I can.

To nominate somebody for Adventurer of the Week contact Craig Hill at craig.hill@thenewstribune.com

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