Alumnus Bikes Coast to Coast

Closser at Cannon Beach, Oregon, before his final leg to Astoria (Facebook photo)

Bruce Closser, a Marquette resident and 1967 business administration graduate of Northern Michigan University, successfully completed a Guinness World Record attempt to become the oldest person to bike across the country. At age 78, he traveled from Yorktown, Va. to Astoria, Ore. via the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. The 4,200 mile journey traverses mountain passes, national parks and major cities.

Closser lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, carrying all of his belongings in five pouches, two strapped on both ends of the bike and one on the handlebars. Altogether his bike and luggage weighed about 55 pounds, with half of that being the bike itself.

Something that Closser has taken a long time to consider, both during his trip and after, was why he decided to embark on the Adventure Cycling Association's longest trail.

“It took me a long time to get an answer for [why I did it],” Closser said in an interview with TV6. “I learned, from people I met along the trail, that people do this when they're in periods of transition in their life, like when someone is between jobs. This trip takes three months, so if you have a job or kids, you can't take that time off.”

Closser also disclosed that just a year prior, his wife Sally passed away from Parkinson's Disease, something that Closser was diagnosed with as well. The loss proved to be his “period of transition.” He was also planning to go on the trip with his adopted son Suman, but decided to go solo when his son was unable to get three months off work.

In an article from, Closser said he had contemplated doing this trip for a while, even pitching the idea to his late wife, but ultimately decided to follow through when saw an article that the oldest man to bike across the country was 75. Since he's currently 78, it seemed like the perfect time to take on the challenge.

Closser applied to make an official Guinness World Record attempt, and the rest is history. Before he started the journey he described himself as “excited and trepidatious,” but kept a valuable piece of information close to help stay committed.

“There's a statistic I read,” Closser said in a story in The Mining Journal. “It says that solo riders who start the Trans-America Bicycle Trail have a 50% chance of finishing. If they get through the first 10 days, 90% will finish.”

View a TV6 interview recapping his journey here. Or read his daily account on his Bruce M. Closser Facebook account. 

Prepared By

Max McCullough
Student Writer

Categories: Alumni