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No easy rider 

Sometime last week, Colorado College student Avery Bloom broke north out of the Springs bound for Wyoming, Idaho, the deserts of eastern Oregon and, with any luck, California.

A coast-to-coast road trip is an American rite of passage. But when it's done on a single horse-powered moped with a maximum speed of 25 mph, well, then it becomes the sort of far out vision quest many young hearts appreciate, but few outside the ethereal universe of undergraduate liberal arts majors are likely to pull off.

To date, Bloom has averaged 100 miles a day since leaving his Nyack, NY, home on July 6 and arriving in Colorado Springs exactly one month later.

He's been rained on, driven off the road, and fed by soccer moms and Harley Davidson aficionados alike. He's pitched his tent in state parks, stranger's yards, and the side of the road.

He's eaten way too much oatmeal.

Bloom christened his steel pony "Maureen," which he says is short for "motor," or as he cried out in his struggle to ascend the merciless hills of western Pennsylvania "Give me mo!"

If necessity is the mother of invention, then student poverty is the progenitor of Maureen. While he raised a few hundred bucks through a chili cook-off in April, his voyage's saving fiscal grace came through brokering a deal with Pennsylvania-based Cosmopolitan Motors, which sold him the bike for a dollar. For his part, Bloom is responsible for maintaining a travel Web log (www.mopedarmy.com) and courting as much media attention as possible (an effort in which this paper is shamelessly complicit).

A few of Bloom's high- and lowlights:

Being run off the road by a motorist outside St. Louis and a dump truck on the Indiana-Illinois border.

Sweating bullets in the 108-plus heat on the Kansas-Colorado border.

Being immortalized in a caf in western Missouri, where Bloom claims his photo now hangs next to a local who "looks just like Drew Carey."

Though Bloom denies that the solitude has been boring, he confesses that it takes its toll mentally. "There was a rough part in Kansas where I thought I was crazy. I'm sure of it actually. And who's to say I wasn't? I was the only one there."

-- John Dicker

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