Selecting his most memorable event of 2003 was easy for Jay Robert Cullen, valedictorian of the Frankfort High School Class of 1956. He hasn't decided what he's going to do for an encore in 2004. But stay tuned.
Cullen, 65, a retired Delta Airline pilot, rode a bicycle from coast to coast with two friends in 2003. The 3,900-mile journey from Anacortes, Wash., near Seattle, to Ocean City, Md., began Aug. 10 and ended Oct. 6.
The cross-country ride "was not a physically hard thing to do," said Cullen, who played football at Princeton University and earned a degree in aeronautical engineering before doing his pilot training in the U.S. Navy. "There are a lot of folks who could do it. Being able to take that amount of time out of your life is the tough part."
Bicycling across the United States is more of a mental challenge than anything, he said.
Cullen's wife, Julie Clark Cullen, is also a 1956 graduate of FHS. His sister is Sally Cullen Bryan of Frankfort, and their parents were the late Judge Bob and Gwen Cullen.
The 2003 trip was actually Cullen's second bicycle ride across America. In 1999, he traveled from Balboa Beach, Calif., to St. Augustine, Fla., about 800 miles shorter than the northern route.
In 2003, between Washington and Maryland, Cullen and company took the roads less traveled through Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia.
Cullen, captain and quarterback of the Princeton football team decades ago, was also the designated captain on the long 2003 bicycle ride. He has been a distance runner for 30 years and a biker for 24 years. Besides completing a couple of 26.2-mile marathons and some triathlons through the years, he's participated in two Leadville Trail 100-mile mountain bike events, the Iron Horse Classic, and several 24 Hours of Adrenaline rides. Jay and Julie Cullen have four daughters, 13 grandchildren and a dog named Ralph. Besides working hard at staying physically fit in retirement, Jay is active in the First Baptist Church of Cumming, Ga. The Cullens have lived in Dawsonville, Ga., since 1965.
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