Mike Minnick, 38, and his 5-year-old border collie mix, Bixby, have visited more than 50 animal shelters during their yearlong adventure, pedaling 8,000 miles and counting. The Texas man is riding his bike across the United States with his dog in a grassroots campaign to support nonprofit animal shelters and urge pet seekers to avoid puppy mills.
“There are so many beautiful dogs desperately in need of a home and friendship,” says Minnick, who adopted Bixby from a shelter in his former hometown of Austin, Texas. “If you love animals, donate to your local shelter. Puppies should not be a for-profit commodity.”
Minnick’s journey across America on two wheels with Bixby has a secondary goal: to inspire Americans to bicycle for fun and fitness. The former smoker took up cycling as a way to lose weight and kick his cigarette habit. “I used to get in my car to drive two blocks to buy cigarettes,” he says. “Now I’m in the best shape of my life and happier than ever.”
Minnick, Bixby and their cargo bike loaded with more than 100 pounds of camping gear, dog food and a dog bed mounted to the rear rack attract crowds wherever they stop. Most long-distance bicyclists choose lightweight bicycles and carry minimal gear. That wasn’t an option for Minnick, who chose a cargo bike. “I won’t set any speed records. We go slow and steady and enjoy the views.”
Editor’s note: This originally appeared in Issue #34 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss an issue, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.
Minnick’s journey began in September 2013 in Lubec, Maine. From there they pedaled the East Coast to Key West, Florida, before heading to New Orleans and Texas. From Texas they headed northward through Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana to Washington before spending the winter in California. Minnick has no plans to stop pedaling.
“When I walked away from my life in Austin, I had a nice home and great friends but I was in a rut. My life was flashing before my eyes. Now I wake up every day excited. This is the most fun, challenging, rewarding and adventurous thing I’ve ever done. We live in one of the most geographically amazing and scenically beautiful countries in the world. Bixby and I get to see it, meet its people and pedal it under my power, using no gasoline and living like kings for next to nothing.”
Follow Minnick and his cause at wheresbixby.com.
“We’re pedaling a Yuba Mundo cargo bike. After 8,000 miles carrying nearly 150 pounds of gear, a 50-pound adorable rescue dog, plus a human, our bike is as strong as the day we bought it. With a steel frame and sturdy components, this machine has never let us down. The motorcycle-inspired center stand is one of our favorite features. No need to find something to lean your bike on, and plenty sturdy for loading groceries or pets or children without the bike falling over. When riding with friends, we use our bike as a bike rack and everyone can lock their bikes to ours.
We also really enjoy the frame-mounted front basket that doesn’t move when you turn the handlebars, thus throwing off your balance. This is a smartly engineered machine. The panniers made for the bike are huge, durable and waterproof. Ours took more of a beating than most people will put theirs through, yet remained functional and waterproof.”