Larry Hoff has walked from Mexico to Canada, bicycled around the U.S. perimeter and crossed America in a canoe. Now, he and buddy Chuck Dorn are bicycling to their 50th class reunion at Osseo High School.
"People keep asking my wife, 'Why is he doing this?' And she just shakes her head and has no answer," Dorn said Friday, the 19th day of a 2,000-mile trip that is scheduled to finish in Osseo around 1 p.m. Saturday.
Dorn, 69, and Hoff, 67, are former Osseo High football co-captains who went on to captain teams at the University of St. Thomas and Augsburg College, respectively. They also played on the same baseball and basketball teams. And now the lifelong friends are experiencing the trip of a lifetime together.
For Hoff -- a guy who says he likes to play golf each day, and rides his bicycle 60 miles to get to the course -- this is just one of a dozen amazing adventures.
A retired high school football coach who now lives in Superior, Wis., he says he bicycled 10,000 miles in 2004 alone, including the trip around the U.S. perimeter. He walked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2002 and 2003. He canoed from Washington, D.C., to Mandan, N.D., in the summer of 2006, paddling along the Potomac, Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Then he completed the trip the next summer, from Mandan to Astoria, Ore., paddling the Missouri, Snake and Columbia rivers.
Dorn, who weighs 10 pounds less than he did when he was a 165-pound defensive back in college, prefers handball, racquetball and squash.
Dorn lives in Sacramento, Calif., where the friends began their trek the morning of Aug. 13.
"I needed a goal to push myself," Dorn said by phone during a break Friday, somewhere on the road, east of Redwood Falls, Minn.
He purchased a new road bike. And then he got a hold of Hoff.
"So I called Larry, knowing the answer was going to immediately be 'Yes.'"
Dorn was looking for an endorphins' high. The duo did better than that.
They got ice cream.
"The friendliness of the small-town people we've met has been incredible," Dorn said. "One place we stopped, the restaurant was closed. We knocked and Larry asked the woman who owned the place if they had any ice cream.
"She told us to wait and then brought out two ice-cream cones. She told us not to say anything, that it was from her private stash."
Hoff said he was struck by the beauty of the Grand Tetons. And even though they have concentrated on the road itself, Hoff said the desert also fascinated him.
But what he has found most amazing is the resiliency of his buddy, who has been plagued by leg bruises and a nerve condition that makes sitting painful.
"From three days in, I didn't think he was going to make it," Hoff said of Dorn, a Vietnam veteran. "But Charlie's been my best friend for so long. Nothing he does amazes me anymore."
When they graduated from high school, they may have been told, "Oh, the places you'll go." But as they await the friends they will see at the Sept. 15 reunion, they've thought about the people they've met along the way, "lifelong friends that we were introduced to on this trip," Hoff said.
They'll have two weeks to rest their weary legs before the reunion.
"Maybe we'll take a break and go to the Boundary Waters," Hoff said. "I'll need to get a little exercise."
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419