NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

September 3, 2010

Newburyport High grad takes1,600-mile ride of a lifetime — by scooter

Mike Avagianos was bored, dissatisfied and ultimately unhappy. However, unlike many in his shoes, he decided to do something to change all that.

He embarked on sort of a cross-country excursion, from Boston to Austin.

On a kick scooter.

That's right. A kick scooter. Precisely the type you might see a second-grader putting around on behind the parents on a trip to the mall or grocery store.

"At first, I considered walking across the country, but there are many people already doing that," Avagianos said."

The 29-year-old who grew up in Newburyport wanted to do something unique. The scooter sprung to mind.

"I sprained my ankle the first week I owned it," he said. "Riding in wet weather is dangerous. But despite that, I liked the balance between increased speed and the ability to stop easily for pictures. On top of that, I've found no evidence of anyone attempting any sort of lengthy journey on one before. Despite the insistence of friends that I should ride a pogo stick, I settled on the scooter."

A 1999 graduate of Newburyport High School, Avagianos served in the U.S. Air Force and then enrolled at the University of Cincinnati until he ran out of money. So, unable to finish his degree, he worked a number of jobs until he wound up at the Apple retail store in Providence, R.I.

He said working at the store for 21/2 years allowed him to regroup. He liked his co-workers and had even started writing the store's newsletter. There was one nagging problem, though.

"I wasn't happy. Things were going well, but I wasn't happy with where they were going," he said. "I've always been a creative person ... acting, drawing and even writing on occasion. Working 40 hours a week serving customers wasn't fulfilling my need to create. The newsletter was becoming the highlight of my work week.''

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