Robert B. Moore

Age 73 : Social Security analyst marked retirement by biking cross-country.

May 23, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Reporter

Robert Bruce Moore, a retired Social Security analyst and avid bicyclist who during a three-month odyssey rode his bike from his Roland Park home to the Pacific Ocean, died May 16 of pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 73.

Mr. Moore was born in Los Angeles and later moved with his family to Summit, N.J., where he graduated from high school in 1952.

After earning a bachelor's degree in political science from Rutgers University in 1958, he served in the Army Intelligence Corps for two years. He later earned a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.

He worked as a buyer for a department store until moving to Baltimore in 1966, when he took a job at the Social Security Administration's headquarters in Woodlawn. He retired in 1999.

"He had played tennis and been a swimmer before taking up bicycling in the late 1980s," said his wife of 53 years, the former Nancy Hood.

Mr. Moore enthusiastically embraced bicycling and became president of the Baltimore Bicycling Club. A dedicated cycling organizer and activist, he served as a member of the state and city Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Boards.

As a retirement present to himself, Mr. Moore decided to ride his bike from Maryland to California. On April 30, 1999, Mr. Moore hopped aboard his 12-speed Specialized Expedition titanium-frame bike and pedaled away from his Longwood Road home on a journey across the American heartland.

Mr. Moore carried neither a cell phone nor camera. He hung clothes and camping supplies from saddlebags attached to his bike. He recorded his progress, not always daily, in brief ballpoint pen entries in two small breast pocket memo pads. In the first pad on the first page, he scrawled, "Bob Moore. 1999 Adventure Cycling's Trans-Am."

Mrs. Moore kept a companion log in a stenographer's notebook, across whose cover she had written in heavy black lettering, "Bob's Bike Trip. April 30-July 15. Made by wife."

In it, she recorded news from the road, when he checked in by phone. The first day, according to his log, Mr. Moore pedaled 77.9 miles to Potomac, and the next day, crossed over the Potomac River into Virginia.

Eventually, his route would take him through West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and finally to Florence, Ore., where he caught his first glimpse of the Pacific on July 29.

Mr. Moore recorded his odometer reading in his notebook.

He had pedaled 4,356 miles from Longwood Road to Florence, in 91 days with only "five days off."

Along the way, he endured a cold, bouts of diarrhea, fever, tick bites and even an abscessed tooth that had to be pulled by a Colorado dentist.

Accommodations were bed-and-breakfasts, camp grounds, a string of Super 8 Motels, and sometimes, just the plain, hard ground.

Flat tires and blowouts were a daily occurrence.

On a day when he had fixed four flats, he wrote, "Flies eating me alive while I'm fixing flat. In a bad mood."

Often diary entries were, "Perfect day. Beautiful ride," or one day when he had traveled 58 miles, he wrote, "Terrible day possibly due to poor sleep or German food at dinner."

Then there was the spectacular scenery of the Royal Gorge and the snow-covered Rockies, or other unexpected thrills such as occurred after he crossed the Continental Divide between Cambridge, Idaho, and Halfway, Ore.

"Mostly downhill ride with no brakes," Mr. Moore penned.

He concluded his trip with a 37-day ride down the Pacific Coast that took him through San Francisco - "Could not see much riding over the Golden Gate Bridge," he observed.

He rode through such legendary destinations as Half Moon Bay Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Morro Bay and on to Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Clemente, and to San Diego, his final destination.

He camped out at Pacific Beach.

"Got up at 3:30 for a 7 a.m. plane. Just in time," he wrote.

He boarded a Frontier Airlines plane for Baltimore that deposited him at Baltimore-Washington International Airport five hours and 30 minutes later.

He noted in his diary that he averaged at least 58 miles a day - some days 70. He kept careful track of his finances, noting that he had spent $45.90 per diem, and overall, the trip had cost $6,592. 82.

Diane Purpura, who had ridden with Mr. Moore for years, was a cross- country bike veteran. "First off, it's very grueling, and doing it solo, as Bob did, isn't normal," she said. "But, it can be a great thing when you're making a transition in your life, as he was from work to retirement."

A memorial gathering will be held at his home, 216 Longwood Road, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 28.

Also surviving are a son, Robert Hood Moore of Baltimore, a sister, Marilyn Moore Wood of Cottonwood, Ariz.; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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