Switching Gears: Former track standout Matt Welch cycling across the USA

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For about 10 years Matt Welch dedicated his life to running.

However this summer he decided it was time to switch gears, and is now peddling cross country in a solo cycling challenge.

On June 21st Welch, a native of Duluth, found himself somewhere new.

The Proctor track and field alum wasn’t lacing up his shoes to race in a track meet, rather he was peddling off from Seaside, Oregon, embarking on a over 4,700 mile solo cycling tour to Portland, Maine.

"I lost my job in March, so that opened up that world and I had I had money saved up," Welch explained. "Then my goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials in track, I was a semi professional runner, and I didn’t qualify."

So for Welch everything seemed to have fallen into place, making now the perfect time to switch gears.

"This adventure is all about me and really uncovering what it means for me to be embracing discomfort," Welch said. "To kind of live with that and own that, and carry that with me over the whole trip. [Also] to meet incredible people, see regions of the U.S. that I haven’t seen before."

The inspiration came from his big brother Ben Welch who, when he was 21-years-old, cycled all the way from Duluth to Anchorage, Alaska.

"Ever since then I’ve been wanting to level him up. I want to bike cross country, but I want to do it better and bolder that he did," Welch laughed.

About 21 days, 750 miles, and four states into his trip, Welch last checked in at Kalispell, Montana.

Despite riding through 117 degree temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, and cattle country, the vegetarian said he’s hardly hit any bumps in the road.

"I don’t always know where I’m going to be able to eat, or when I’m going to be filling up water bottles, where I’m going to be sleeping each night," Welch explained. "I don’t have everything planned to a tee. I kind of make it up as I go on the day, so that’s requiring me to be more present in my life."

Welch trained over a few weeks for the trek, but for him it’s more of a spiritual journey, challenging himself physically, mentally and emotionally.

"I’m really using this time to be introspective so by the time I get to Portland, Maine, and I’m ready to reintegrate into the normal world, that I will have more clarity."

He added the most challenging and exciting part is the requirement to be present, always.

Follow his journey on his blog, Run the Process.