70-year-old Iowa man travels through Grand Strand on 7,000-mile bicycle adventure

cslate@thesunnews.comJune 19, 2013 

— Jack Day of Des Moines, Iowa, didn’t start riding bicycles until he turned 65, but in the five years since he has cycled from the Golden Gate Bridge to Times Square, and now is on a 7,000-mile journey to mark his 70th year.

Day, who was in Surfside Beach on Wednesday, said he just started riding.

“It struck my fancy,” he said. “I wish I had started sooner.”

When he announced plans for the cross country ride at age 68, he said his kids thought, “I’d gone off the deep end, now they just love it and are 100 percent behind me.”

He left Iowa, delayed two weeks by lingering cold weather this spring and traveled almost due south to the Gulf coast, across Florida, then down to Key West. He is now working his way to the tip of Maine, before skirting Canada on his way back to Des Moines.

His main goal on this trip is the Key West to Maine segment. His first trip crossed the country horizontally. Now he says he wants to do it vertically, hoping the late start doesn’t mean cold weather before he finishes.

He travels unsupported, staying with hosts along the way whenever possible. So far he has stayed with 48 people, and said most hosts are members of the Warm Showers Community which caters to bicycle tourists. He has spent seven nights in motels using that as time to chill out and catch up on posting to Facebook and his blog. Other nights he camps, using the complete camping gear he carries on his bicycle.

He calls this travel an “eye-opener to a culture in this country’s vast pockets of people.”

He said the ride is a wonderful way to see that part of America nobody sees, and that people are so generous and trying to help you constantly.

Day was pushing his bike up one of the huge hills in the Ozarks when he said a man passed in a pickup truck, turned around, pulled up with a handful of money fanned out like a deck of playing cards and said, “Here you take this.”

Day then explained he wasn’t homeless, just on a bicycle tour and asked the man to find someone who needed the money and help them out.

He hopes to inspire people to take better care of themselves. He said he no longer takes any prescription drugs because his joints no longer ache.

“The exercise helps me in every way,” Day said. “I feel like a kid again.”

On an adventure like this, he said “You take the bad with the good, you don’t know what is around the next corner or over the next hill and you know nothing about the host you are staying with.”

He left Surfside Beach Wednesday morning with plans to pedal to Shallotte before finding a place to stay.

To follow Day’s ride called the 7,000@70 Bicycle Tour 2013, including a satellite tracker of his position, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/2013CallToAdventure.

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