Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 68 year old cross-country cyclist and feel that my greatest accomplishment in life is my three inspiring, grown children. My work (fun) is authoring promotional performance video clips for the websites of entertainers. I grew up in a western suburb of St. Louis that was well protected from outside influences. As a result, I have always been too naive to be aware of limitations as to what can be accomplished. Des Moines, Iowa, has been my home since the 70s, a small-big city where the ‘living is easy’.
Last year you embarked on a four-month bicycling trip. Where did you bike and what were some of the most interesting/surprising experiences you had?
The most fun that I have ever had in my life was last year’s solo bicycle ride across America, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Times Square, New York City. It was the people met from all walks of life that were the backbone of the ride. Some were travelers like me, traversing the mountains, deserts, and flatlands, and fully awed by the vistas and enormous expanses of this beautiful country. You could recognize the others immediately by their huge smiles. Others were the like-minded hosts who offered me a shower and a place to pitch my tent, or even a comfy bed. They demonstrated that the generosity of strangers was nothing short of amazing.
Surprisingly, there were people who stopped their vehicles to give me drinks, one woman even waited in her pick-up on top of a steep grade (hours of pushing to the summit) to give me a packed lunch, and when I broke down in the desert, fifty miles from nowhere, it was only a matter of minutes before someone stopped to help.
One small town policeman in Nevada even gave me a cell to crash in while his wife supplied me with a hot supper. There was also the UPS guy willing to track me down on the highway to deliver a much needed package. “There is only one road, I figure it will be hard to miss you.”
And then there were the lasting friendships created through riding the roadways and trails for days and weeks together before separating to go our own ways. And everywhere I bumped into interesting people of all ages on their own quests, small or large, shaking hands hardily and laughing with abandon. …Traveling by car and staying in sterile motels on vacations, one misses every one of these stimulating people and experiences.
Together with your brother Bill, who is a filmmaker, you are creating a documentary film of your upcoming USA cross-country bicycle ride. What inspired you to embark on such a fascinating project?
After reaching the East coast and completing my ride, I stayed awhile in the New York City area with my brother Bill, the filmmaker. He works for all the networks and possesses large clients like FedEx, and has made documentaries all over the world, some under extreme conditions.
He was enthralled by my stories and the photo/video media from the journey, especially those concerning older folks like me having a great time. The idea for a movie sprung from the talk of my plans for this year. Being a North-to-South Atlantic Seaboard route, filming expenses would be greatly reduced and just might make it a feasible project.
What do you most hope to accomplish via your ride and documentary film?
Through this coming film, Bill and I would like to expose the 50+ crowd encountered along the way who are enhancing their lives through adventure, no matter what type of activity that may be. Groups up and down the eastern seaboard are supplying us with their creatures of interest, all in the hopes that through telling their stories, we might inspire others to push away from their computers or get up from their couches. Lack of activity is the worst enemy to good health.
Are you looking forward to meeting any Trippers along the way?
TRIPPERS and their cohorts are among the generous like-minded people that we yearn to meet along our route. Younger adventurers tend to be more focused on mileage per day and the end goal. They sometimes fail to realize that a host provides welcome social interaction and are indispensable for their local guidance in difficult situations. Campgrounds are okay, motels serve a purpose, but they both provide little positive benefit from just passing through a community. It’s the people one meets that leave the lasting impressions of an area.
How can members of our community support your project?
There are ways that the community of TRIPPERS can help us to complete our quest of an awe-inspiring film. Go to our Kickstarter Project page which provides more info and a much needed financial option. There are also things you can do from in front of your computer. Constantly moving, we have need of Researching Hosts who can help us as we make our way South. Needed items may be ways around closed tunnels or bridges, or finding ‘Trippers’ that will put up with me for an evening in the lower states, or maybe by providing some must-see locations, places to eat, and eccentrics that only locals know about. We’d hate to miss a thing!
Thanks Jack for the interview – we’re excited about your cross-country trip! Trippers, if you have tips for Jack or would like to meet up with him or host him on his inspiring adventure, connect with him via his Tripping profile or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.