UPDATE: Solo biker calls homeWhen her 26-year-old son told her he was planning a solo trek across the country on his bicycle, Karen Kunkle had one condition. Willy Kunkle was to call or text her or his grandmother at least every other day to ease their minds.
By: By Dave Roepke, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
When her 26-year-old son told her he was planning a solo trek across the country on his bicycle, Karen Kunkle had one condition.
Willy Kunkle was to call or text her or his grandmother at least every other day to ease their minds.
“We had a deal,” she said.
His family hoped Kunkle, a native of Portland, Ore., had an innocuous reason for breaking the deal. They hadn’t heard from him in nearly a week, and his last missive indicated that he was almost to North Dakota.
They were starting to get worried.
Thankfully, Willy Kunkle called them Wednesday and confirmed he was
Kunkle’s younger sister, mother and father had flown into Fargo on Wednesday afternoon to help spearhead a search for the bicyclist who said he was near Breckenridge, Minn., when he had last contacted relatives Sept. 2.
Speaking at Hector International Airport after just arriving, Willy’s father, Roy Kunkle, expected it would be a misunderstanding, perhaps the result of an ill-timed breakdown in a remote rural area.
“My hope of hopes is we’re going to have an embarrassed hug with the guy,” Roy Kunkle had said.
Thankfully, he was right.
The cross-country trip on a gray Univega bike with a high-set seat – a bicycle he calls Lola – wasn’t Willy’s first wandering adventure. It comes on the heels of two years he spent working as a crew member on yachts, sailing from Thailand at first and eventually navigating the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, the Indian Ocean, even going through the Panama Canal.
Family members had planned to put up posters and look for Kunkle on a route he might have been following – the Adventure Cycling Association’s “northern tier,” a path running from Fargo to Minot in North Dakota.
Then that promised call came.