It didn't take Anders Forselius long to discover North Dakota's signatures - big animal statues and rural road waves.
Also that most of North Dakota's Scandinavians are, well, Norwegians. But they're very nice, Forselius said. Since he is Swedish, the compliment means something.
The 43-year-old is crossing North Dakota this week, biking from New York to Seattle and back again and, if cycling 7,000 miles wasn't quite enough exercise, running 12 marathons throughout the trip.
He started the journey with the Boston Marathon April 18 and New Jersey Marathon May 1 and then rested a week before taking off with his bicycle from New York May 8.
So far he's biked about 1,800 miles and just finished his fifth marathon, the Minneapolis Marathon, June 5. He'll run his next June 25 when he reaches Seattle.
The biking, such as the 103 miles he rode Sunday from Jamestown to Bismarck, keeps him from getting fat, he said.
The secondary effect of all the biking is that, as Forselius said, he can "eat like a garbage can."
Forselius, who is online as "the Biking Viking," is raising funds for cancer research on his trek, a cause that is dear to him for the friends and family that have had cancer.
In fact, when Forselius stayed at a hostel in Los Angeles, a woman there told him the story of her 12-year-old son who had died of cancer and whose dearest wish was to see the world. So now the Swede carries a leather case containing the boy's ashes with him wherever he bikes.
Forselius has biked all over the world since the 1990s and has run marathons on every continent. His bike treks have include a circuit from Marathon, Greece, to Stockholm, Athens to Athens, the four corners of the U.S., and then through South America when it gets wintery-cold in the northern hemisphere.
He doesn't have a go-to bike brand, but generally gets a new one before he starts a new tour, toting about 70 pounds of tent and supplies. For the route ahead, Forselius networks with folks he meets along the way, getting recommendations for places where he can stay overnight, pitch his tent, maybe get a hot shower. His laptop provides a place to write his blog, plan his route, check the weather, and take donations for his cancer research fundraising, and work on the book he's writing, which is in the voice of the 12-year-old whose ashes he carries.
Forselius also writes articles for the Swedish "Runner's World" edition and other publications, he said.
That helps fund his travels; he's able to live easily on $20 a day in the U.S., he said - $10 a day if he didn't have to fund his coffee breaks, he joked.
He was a little nervous about North Dakota's wide-open spaces for the possible headwind problems, but so far, so good, he said. The only alarm he feels is when he's too far from a coffee shop, he said. He loves history and tries to take back roads and stop at historical markers whenever he can, he said.
Back roads and friendly drivers also take a toll on his waving arm, he said; everybody on rural roads waves here, he said. He's also noted North Dakotans penchant for enormous animal statues, and was looking forward on Monday to seeing New Salem Sue as he headed west from a stop at a Starbucks in Bismarck. He planned to bike that far on Monday and then stop to meet a writing deadline, he said.
Forselius is selling every foot of his New York City Marathon for $1 each. Funds go to Fred´s Team and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Fred Lebow, the man that started New York Marathon, created Fred´s Team to raise money for cancer research. Every year about 800 runners form Fred´s Team in New York City Marathon, Forselius said.
This might be his last trip - he promised his mother in Sweden that it would be, he said.
But he's already hedging on that. All the places he's seen just make him want to see more, "see what's next," he said.
For more information on Forselius and Fred's Team, visit www.bikingviking.se.
(Reach reporter Karen Herzog at 250-8267 or firstname.lastname@example.org)