Ross MBA Bikes 4,200 Miles Across US in 28 Days


Michigan Ross students love taking on challenges — and smashing them.

Chris Owen, a dual-degree MBA/MS student who begins his studies this fall, just finished a month-long, cross-country adventure: the Trans America Bike Race, also known as TransAm.

Biking for 16-18 hours a day is grueling enough, but TransAm has the added challenge of being a solo and self-supported race, meaning racers do not receive help from the personal support vehicles often present in other races.  
This meant that Owen was alone when he faced: “Just about everything. Snow storms and grizzly bears, 110-degree heat and 40 mph crosswinds, 10,000 foot mountain passes and perilous switchback descents, sleep deprivation and malnutrition, isolation and mental fatigue, multiple flat tires, a shredded shifter cable, and injuries.”

Owen was inspired to complete the race after returning from a three-year stint in Ecuador, where he volunteered for the Peace Corps. He envisioned TransAm as a welcome home adventure and a way to explore the U.S.

Owen's 4,266-mile journey took him from from Oregon state to Virginia. He rode 16-18 hours a day and slept for 5-6, “which, by most race standards, was luxurious,” he said. He camped in national parks, along highways, and even front yards. He ate more than 10,000 calories each day, relying heavily on fast-food dollar menus. And as for showers and hygiene? “You don’t want to know,” he says.

Owen says the arduous journey from the west to east coasts taught him unforgettable lessons: “I learned that little by little I can do it, that sometimes going backwards is going forwards, and that good decision-making is a dance between knowing when to be patient and when to push through.”

Sounds like Owen is well-prepared for the focus and commitment needed to complete his degrees.

Congrats, Owen, and welcome to Michigan Ross. Now hurry up and pedal your way back to Ann Arbor — MBA Orientation begins in three weeks!