PORTLAND— Nearly two weeks after Mark Bosworth vanished during a seven-day bicycle tour along scenic roads in Oregon, police still have no idea where the 54-year-old cancer survivor went. He left everything behind: clothing, his wallet and credit cards, and his bike.
Relatives are convinced Bosworth is alive, maybe so confused that he has forgotten that his home is in Portland. They suspect a recurrence of lymphoma that may have spread to his brain and caused symptoms of dementia.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 17, the day after Bosworth disappeared, a man wearing similar clothes was seen hitchhiking on a road outside the town of Riddle, where cyclists camped. His wife, Julie, wonders whether he’s is trying to get to New York City, where the couple lived for 10 years.
“I can imagine Mark being on I-90, getting by with 40 bucks in his pocket and a stranger’s kindness, being confused but strong enough to be on the road,” she told The Associated Press.
She hopes that her husband is still alive, maybe catching a ride with someone, maybe walking down some city street, that someone will recognize him, tell him people are looking for him, and that he needs to go home.
As he has in years past, Bosworth this year signed up as a volunteer for Cycle Oregon, an annual bike tour that drew 2,400 riders from around the region and took them on some of the most scenic routes in the state. Although Bosworth was part of the tour’s support team, he brought his bike in case he had time to ride.
But days before the start, Bosworth was complaining of headaches.
He brushed them off, saying they were probably caused by muscles he had pulled while working on his bike. His wife wasn’t so sure and told him so. He made appointments to see his internist and oncologist, but set them up for after the race.
During the trip, some had noticed uncharacteristic behavior from Bosworth. He failed to show up for some volunteer shifts, would stare into the distance while standing by himself and had difficulty following signs. When asked if he needed help, he said he was fine.
In a morning telephone conversation with his wife two days before he vanished, Bosworth said Cycle Oregon had surprised everyone by flying cyclists to Ontario, Canada. In a phone call with his wife later that day he acknowledged it was a strange thing to say and tried to explain it away by saying he must have been having a vivid dream just before they talked earlier in the day.
Julie Bosworth thinks her husband was trying not to deal with the possibility he might be having a cancer relapse until he got back.
Police say it does not appear that Bosworth was a victim of foul play. After talking with Bosworth’s doctors and relatives, investigators believe some medical episode is behind Bosworth’s disappearance, said Lt. Chris Merrifield, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The search continues. Friends, relatives and others have distributed posters from the Canadian border into California and set up a blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to getting Bosworth’s photo out there and getting him home.
Bosworth is a map expert with Metro, a regional government entity for the greater Portland metropolitan area, as well as an avid cyclist, musician and cook.
Cyclist Greg Bolen spent time with Bosworth several hours before he disappeared.
At a beer garden set up by Cycle Oregon, Bosworth told Bolen he was going to the bathroom while they waited for pizzas, but he didn’t return to the table. When Bolen saw him later that day Bosworth said he ran into someone, got to talking and lost track of time.
Bolen last saw Bosworth at about 9:30 on the night of Sept. 16, as they were walking back to the campsite.
Mark and Julie Bosworth were planning to fly to London this weekend to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Instead, she will be continuing to help in the search for her husband.