Around the country in 217 days

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

It was around 2 a.m. on Wednesday and Peter Hoogenboom awoke to what he thought was the sound of termites.

His wife, Pat Hoogenboom, turned on the lamp of their Nephi motel room and, dismissing the noise, told her husband to go back to sleep.

Three hours later, the noise returned, along with a shadow of a mouse gliding near the bedside lamp.

Frustrated, Pat Hoogenboom put on a jacket, stormed to the motel lobby and, after receiving a key, moved four rooms away.

The Hoogenbooms had reason to be jittery. After all, they were only one day away from the end of their seven-month journey.

For 217 days, Peter Hoogenboom, a 46-year-old U health-care employee and a cyclist for more than 22 years, rode a bicycle around the United States, covering 48 states-all but Hawaii and Alaska-and riding more than 9,800 miles.

The trip was made possible by the 2005 Bayer Ascensia Dream Fund, which he won after writing an essay about his dream of biking to spread diabetes awareness.

Peter Hoogenboom was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes when he was 14 and turned to biking as a way to fight the disease.

Starting his nationwide tour in March, he rode an average of 60 to 70 miles every day-sometimes riding up to 127 miles.

His wife would watch him ride off and then drive the support vehicle to their next destination. Meanwhile, Peter Hoogenboom tracked his location on the Global Positioning System installed on his bike.

The pair hit places such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., staying in motels, hotels, tents and houses of family members around the nation and sleeping in 159 different towns.

The hardest part, Peter Hoogenboom said, was surviving the heat during summer months. But, he said, he always wore a St. Francis medallion-a gift from a friend-to give him luck along the way.

The best parts, he said, were the start and finish of the tour because he had the opportunity to meet with family and friends.

Holding up signs that read “Welcome home” and “The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams,” U health-care staff and the Hoogenbooms’ family joined together Thursday as he rode to the Utah Diabetes Center in Research Park, marking his last stop on the tour.

“I don’t think I needed to bicycle 10,000 miles to know how warm the welcome is when you come home,” he said.

Several second-grade students from Lone Peak Elementary School, who kept in contact with the Hoogenbooms throughout their trip, also welcomed him during his arrival.

Stephen McBride, diabetes sales specialist with Bayer Healthcare, congratulated Peter Hoogenboom on his courageous trip.

“So many people think that they are limited by their disease,” McBride said. “However, he proved that you can have a happy and healthy life even when you have diabetes. His trip was not just motivational, but it inspired and helped the thousands of people he met along the way.”

Pat Hoogenboom said the trip nearly doubled the number of states the couple had ever visited. She also said the tour strengthened their marriage.

“Although it was a hard trip, it gave us a lot of together time,” she said.

The Hoogenbooms started a Web site about their journey, complete with calorie counts, pictures and daily blogs, including a mouse-in-the-motel entry from their last day.

The Hoogenbooms’ journey can be found at

Lennie Mahler

Peter Hoogenboom breaks through the banner marking the finish line of his trip at the Utah Diabetes Center on Thursday.

Lennie Mahler

U health care employee Peter Hoogenboom arrives at the finish line of his 10,000-mile ride around the country at the Utah Diabetes Center on Thursday, welcomed by friends and coworkers. The ride, aiming to raise diabetes awareness, took him through all 48 contiguous states.