Biking Viking
Anders Forselius of Sweden rides through Baraboo on Tuesday to meet with the Jonet family. He spent the night at their home, resting before getting back on his bike to ride to Minneapolis, where he will run a marathon. Forselius is trying to raise money for cancer research. Ed Zagorski / News Republic

He's just a regular guy with a bicycle, a pair of running shoes and a big heart.

Anders Forselius of Sweden rides his bicycle from city to city across the U.S., occasionally stopping to run a marathon, and then hops on his bike to another city to do it all over again.

"I have a lot of friends and some family members who have cancer," he said. "I want to raise money for cancer research, and this is the best way I know how to help."

Nicknamed the "Biking Viking" by his friends in New York, Forselius made a stop Tuesday in Baraboo, where he met with Bruce and Kristi Jonet and the couple's 19-year-old son Micah.

Bruce said he was visiting a website where families can host bicyclists riding through their communities. "The biking community is a real tight family of people," Bruce said. "Anders sent an email through the web site that he would be coming through town and we wanted to help him out - with some good food, a hot shower and a place to sleep."

Kristi laid out the night's agenda: After sharing a dinner of chicken, rice and morel mushrooms - capped off with a rhubarb crisp for dessert - the family would take Forselius to Devil's Lake State Park and the Merrimac ferry.

"My relatives all came from Norway, so we will have a lot of stories to share," Kristi said. "You just really get a different view of humanity by opening your home to others."

Forselius couldn't not have been more thankful. As he rolled his bicycle into Jonets' garage, swallowed his first few gulps of juice and sat on the family's couch, he smiled and let out a sigh of relief.

"This is so much more comfortable (than the bike)," he said. "I have just decided to stay here for six months."

Two days ago, he was in Madison running a marathon. This weekend he plans on running another in Minneapolis. When he's done with his marathon season, he will have run 11 marathons and logged 7,000 miles on his bike.

In 2008, Forselius heard of a 12-year-old boy from California who died of a rare virus. Since learning about the boy, Alex Blackburn, from the boy's mother at a youth hostel in California, Forselius has been scattering Alex's ashes on his journey.

Forselius said he intends to write a book about his experiences once he returns to his home in Ljusdals, Sweden. It will be titled "Travels with Alex Blackburn."

He said thoughts of Alex keep him motivated. "He gives me the reason to travel and to continue when I am struggling," Forselius said.

He started his journey when he ran the Boston Marathon in April, following it up with the New York Marathon and the Pittsburgh Marathon.

"It's tough, but I don't need a lot of recovery time," he said.

Today, Forselius plans on pedaling to La Crosse.

"It's about 90 miles," he said. "I'll be ready for it. It's all about trying to raise awareness and money for cancer research - that's why I am doing this. Everyone has been so nice to me in Wisconsin. Everyone is so friendly here."

Along for the ride

• You can travel along with Anders Forselius by visiting his web site at www.bikingviking.se