Medford man to bike across country for hunger awareness

Eric Dittmer is willing to go a long way to spread the word about hunger in America.

How long? Try all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

The 66-year-old Medford resident is riding his bicycle across the country to speak with people in several states about the plight of America's needy.

"You meet a lot of people on a trek like this," Dittmer said. "I am going to tell them what the goal is and hope to make a difference."

Dittmer, who recently retired from his job as a geology professor at Southern Oregon University, will push off this weekend from Medford and ride to Boise and then on to Yellowstone National Park.

"I'm a little nervous about the record snowpack at Yellowstone this year," he said.

He will make the trip with his friend Bob Budesa, 59, who has retired from the Bureau of Land Management.

"It will be nice to have him along," Dittmer said. "I'm sure some days we will get tired of being around each other, but Bob's a good rider and companion on a trip like this."

The ride is part of an outreach program from Water's Edge Community Church.

Along with a camp stove and tent, Dittmer will pack cards giving details on how to help fight hunger.

He is sure many of the people he will meet on the road will have some experience or knowledge of hunger in their communities.

"The hungry are everywhere," he said. "Most town have homeless shelters or food pantries of some sort."

As the trip continues, Dittmer wants to fit in time to see Mount Rushmore and Civil War battlefields on the East Coast.

He also will keep his eye out for geological features along the way.

"As a retired geologist, I have always wanted to explore Devil's Tower in South Dakota," he said.

Dittmer has dreamed of making this trip for several years. His primary concern is weather related.

"I am not used to humidity," he said. "I know I will encounter that in the east."

The duo plan to put 60 to 70 miles behind them each day. They will spend the majority of the trip camping at night. They have funds to purchase food along the way and stay in hotels a couple times a week.

The trip could close to three months. It will end near Washington, D.C.

"At the end of it I will dip my tire in the Atlantic Ocean," Dittmer said.

Dittmer is not holding to a binding schedule, though.

"I'm am retired," he said. "For the first time in 20 years, I don't have to plan for classes in September."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email

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