Phillip Fortenberry’s morning ritual is probably a little different from yours or mine.
“I bike to work every day,” he tells me.
“Is it every day? Like, literally every day?” I ask.
“Yeah. Every day I can, I do.” He goes on: “Sometimes my wife tries to talk me out of it when the snow is heavy, but she leaves a little bit before me, and I feel like I’ve got to do it.”
Fortenberry’s love affair with cycling began eight years ago, when the Marine veteran from Mississippi was looking for a change.
“I smoked a pack a day,” he says, “so that really wears on a man’s body over fifteen years.”
So he bought a bike and rode it across the country — from Seattle to Maine, with a memorable stop in North Dakota.
“I was in Ray, North Dakota, and there was a rodeo,” he recalls. “I asked if I could ride a bull, and they said yes.”
The five-and-a-half-second ride was captured on video. “It was like an exhilaration I cannot explain.”
His time in North Dakota was memorable enough to convince him to move here just ten days after his trip ended.
Which takes us to today — and another commute to work.
“I come down River Road, and then I pick up the bike path,” he says. “It’s a great way to wake up. To see nature and get that exercise in.”
Phillip Fortenberry hits the road come rain or shine, sleet or snow — in fact, he says he almost prefers the latter. “The worse the weather looks before I get dressed, the more excited I am,” he tells me. “I get pumped up, like, ‘Oh yeah, the snow’s coming down!'”
As it turns out, that two-wheeled contraption totally transformed his life.
It’s part of how he makes his living: he’s a Certified Bike Fitter at 701 Cycle & Sport. “This time of season, I’m seeing a lot of triathletes and new bike purchasers,” he says. “I build the bike custom to their limitations, their flexibility, and also their event.”
And it’s even how he met his spouse: “Our dating really started with us tandem riding together, and then we planned for a big adventure together.”
And by the way: Fortenberry passes under the railroad bridge over the Missouri River each morning, stopping to take a photo of it each day.
It’s his own personal time lapse project (and evidence that indeed, he does bike to work, even on the snowiest winter days).
Fortenberry is six months into his time lapse project so far.