The ride of a lifetime

Posted 6/29/09

Driving home from work in a rainstorm can be a real pain. The slick roads can snarl traffic and heat up tempers. Ben Mondragon is having none of it. …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

The ride of a lifetime


Driving home from work in a rainstorm can be a real pain. The slick roads can snarl traffic and heat up tempers.

Ben Mondragon is having none of it.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Mondragon said, smiling.

The Centennial man doesn’t actually drive home from work. He pedals — no rolling up the windows and cranking up the music for him.

Mondragon doesn’t ride competitively. He does it to stay fit. He does it because he loves it.

On a recent rainy afternoon, Mondragon was poised to navigate his bicycle five miles in a downpour after putting in a full day at the office in northern Douglas County.

But then, every day this time of year is Bike to Work Day for the anti-money laundering compliance officer.

“My rule is if there’s no snow on the ground and it’s 45 degrees or more, I’ll ride to work,” he said.

These rides are pretty tame compared to what the 50-year-old recently took on, something he calls his Big Bicycle Adventure.

It was essentially a very long ride home.

The journey was designed to take him from the San Francisco area to Denver, a more-than-1,000-mile trip that would finish something he started as a young man.

“When I was in college, I rode from here to Florida,” he said.

Ever since that 2,200-mile excursion, he has wanted to realize his goal of crossing the entire country on a bike.

Mondragon also had the added motivation of having reached a milestone birthday.

“I wanted to show everybody that 50 is just a number,” he said.

So after talking his wife, Vicki, into letting him begin the adventure, the father of two teenage girls flew out to San Francisco in May. He would begin his trip from Fremont, Calif., and hopefully end in Denver.

Mondragon considers himself a man of faith, but he didn’t want to leave much to chance. He carried 38 pounds of gear, including a tent, a sleeping bag, clothes, tools and a spare tire. He also carried four, 100-ounce containers of water.

He was as prepared as he could be, but still, there was plenty of tough terrain ahead.

Twisting, winding foothills. Mountain passes. Desert.

“The Nevada desert was probably the toughest,” he said. “Temperatures were in the 100s. There was no shade.”

But he enjoyed the scenery along the way and kept going for 18 days, camping out in his tent at night or, sometimes, staying in a hotel.

In Utah, he met up with his brother-in-law and the two were to finish the trip together.

Time was running out, however, and the men had to cut the trip short, ending in Jensen, Utah. Their wives drove to pick them up.

“It was pretty cool,” said Mondragon. “Especially after not having seen her for 18 days.”

His adventure took 3 pounds off his 135-pound frame and ended about 300 miles short of his goal. He plans to finish in the fall of 2010.

“You have to be able to tell yourself you can do it,” he said, “and don’t talk yourself out of it.”

The rain had stopped falling while Mondragon talked to a reporter about his trip. He peeled off his rain gear and pedaled toward home once again.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.