Biking across the United States seems like a pretty daunting challenge for most people. Athletes with this lofty goal plan and train for months – even years – for the journey.

And then there’s Ross Ring-Jarvi.

The senior captain of the Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team wanted to scratch the feat of riding over 3,000 miles across country off his bucket list.  He knew he only had 25 days of free time over the summer, so he said, ‘why not?’

THE RING-JARVI FILE
Category Info
No. 10
Position Forward
Year Senior
Height 6-0
Weight 190
Hometown Anoka, Minn.
High School Anoka
Previous Team North Iowa (NAHL)

“Teammates and friends would ask, ‘Why are you doing this again?’” Ring-Jarvi said. “I didn’t really have a great answer other than I had nothing else to do at that time of the year. It was something fun to check off the bucket list.”

So, he and his adventurous parents Roland and Sue from Anoka, Minn., packed up the car and completed the trip in less than 23 days. Ring-Jarvi began the trip at the end of May, and was on a time crunch to get back to Minnesota to work hockey camps during the summer.

“I only had about 25 days to do it, and I ended up doing it in 22 1/2 days,” Ring-Jarvi said.  “I averaged about 140 miles a day.”

Ring-Jarvi began his trek in Newport, Ore., and made his way through the mountains to Yellowstone National Park, and then headed west to his home state of Minnesota, where he and his parents spent the night visiting his grandmother. He took a ferry across Lake Michigan, biked a little through Canada, passed by Niagara Falls and ended the 3,210-mile journey in Stamford, Conn., on June 20.

While most people would be gearing up for such a treacherous challenge with a strict training regime, Ring-Jarvi “just relaxed” after hockey season ended last March, and kept in shape with his normal workout routines.

“Because he is such a good athlete, he doesn’t really need to train,” Gustavus head coach Brett Petersen said. “The pace that he biked at last summer was really remarkable.  If you go on any of the Bike Across America websites, the routes are planned out for normal people for about 50 days.”

Once Ring-Jarvi made it through the mountains it was smooth sailing – or coasting – from then on.

“After the first five days, I was exhausted and wondering why I was doing it,” Ring-Jarvi said.  “I was sore, and it was kind of a testing point.”

Ring-Jarvi – or “Ringo” as Petersen and his teammates call him – inherited this strong sense of adventure from his parents, who went on a cross-country cycling trip on their honeymoon. To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago, they biked across the nation again which has inspired Ring-Jarvi. Both of his parents biked a few hundred miles with their son during the trip, but for the most part, they made their way in the car.

“It is part of his upbringing and that’s just what they do,” Petersen said.  “They packed the car and off they went, and three weeks later he called to say he made it … that’s Ringo.”

Of course, biking from sunrise to sunset at such a rapid pace does not allow you to soak in the sites as a regular tourist. But the nation’s striking beauty did not get lost on the young biker.

“I really loved Yellowstone,” Ring-Jarvi said. “It is such a pure area and beautiful. I liked having things ahead that I was looking forward to – after Yellowstone, it was Devil’s Tower.  You see the country in such a different way.”

Although Ring-Jarvi regrets “racing” through the journey, it did give him a lot of solitude and time to think.

“It made life really simple,” Ring-Jarvi said. “You get up and you’re going to bike – that’s all you have to do for the day.  It was very different than everyday life.”

The journey also gave Ring-Jarvi some perspective as he prepared for a hockey season where he is the lone senior on the squad.

After the first five days, I was exhausted and wondering why I was doing it.
-- Gustavus captain Ross Ring-Jarvi

“I got a better understanding of myself,” Ring-Jarvi said. “I trust myself more than ever, so now I can worry about my teammates more because I know I’ll be OK. I’m more able to put more physical and mental effort towards helping my teammates.”

Ring-Jarvi’s effort on the ice in his first three seasons has been stellar as he has garnered All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors three times. A most durable player, Ring-Jarvi has played 90 consecutive games since his first year – never missing a contest for the Gusties.

“He’s an absolute coach’s dream,” Petersen said.  “He does really well in school and he is a leader on the ice and in the locker room. He’s a physical freak – strength-wise and cardio-wise. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and he is one of the greatest athletes I’ve had the privilege of working with.”

Being the only senior, and the captain, of a very young squad is a role full of responsibility for Ring-Jarvi, but Petersen has the ultimate confidence in his veteran.

“He feels at times that he has the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Petersen said. “It is something he continues to work on every day, but I think when they drop the puck on a Friday or Saturday night, he goes back to being Ringo. If there is any young man that can handle it, it is him.”

Ring-Jarvi has helped the Gusties start the season with a 2-4-2 mark, including a tie against top-ranked St. Norbert than ended the Green Knights’ 25-game home ice winning streak. He has contributed three goals and three assists in eight contests this season, including a game-winning score in a 2-1 overtime win against UW-Stevens point. With the goal, he became the 34th player in school history to reach the 100-point milestone.