Gould completes cross country bicycle ride

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 21, 2013

It was June 1, this past summer, when retired veteran Farm Service Director Jay Gould rode down his farm lane located on County Road 000 southeast of Berne to begin what turned out to be a 2,194 mile journey from his doorstep to the home of his son, Kirk, and family in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
Gould traveled west on Indiana 18 in the Marion area, worked his way to Indiana 28 and eventually cut across country to Rockport, where he met his wife, Carolyn, for one final visit before he launched fully into the journey.
Gould eventually picked up U.S. 54/36 in Illinois, filling out his biggest day of biking, 130 miles to Jacksonville, Illinois. On June 5, outside of Jacksonville, he split from U.S. 36 and took U.S. 54 through Pittsfield, Ill. across the Mississippi River at Louisiana, Mo. and into the hilly environment of riding over the green hills of Missouri.
Gould’s intrigue for the trip west had begun the previous January when he had casually mentioned to Kirk and his wife, Sue, that he was mulling over the possibility of riding his bike to Arizona. That sowed seeds that took Gould to “Google search,” to start looking at the possibility of roads, motels and restaurants along the way.
“I knew that if I was going to do this, I wasn’t going to go through the big cities and towns,” said Gould. “I wanted to see the country.
“This was all about curiosity,” continued Gould. “I wanted to see what was out there and I wanted to see if I could actually do this. I don’t think that people should shut down when they retire. If you have a dream, go for it. I hoped that by doing this I would encourage people to keep at it.”
Gould said that some of the biggest challenges along the way included span bridges over the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, strong head winds, steep hills and mountains and bad roads not suited for bicycles.
Along the journey, Gould kept a brief, concise diary of the day’s activities, just enough information to remind him of what had happened.
“There were beautiful, beautiful sights everywhere,” said Gould. “There were beautiful and wonderful people everywhere. People would give smiles and happy waves. I didn’t meet one bad person anywhere.”
The only negative that Gould recorded was the trash that people would dispose of. He said that not only did it make riding bike more dangerous at times, it was very distracting from the otherwise beautiful countryside.
Out of necessity, Gould traveled light. Among his belongings were a safety shirt, three layers of clothing for chilly weather, biking shorts, long tights, sneakers and a head band. Snacks included lots of grain and protein foods.
“Thanks to my friend, Rick (Lichtenberger) in Rick’s Bike Shop in Decatur, my bike was in good shape, and I had various tools and kits along that I might need along the way,” noted Gould.
Once he crossed the Mississippi River, Gould found an immediate topography change from the flat, flourishing corn fields of central Illinois to the rolling hills of Missouri.
“The hills were so beautiful; you would think that you were at the top of the hill and then you would just keep going,” Gould said. “It all got me ready for the mountains. But little did I realize that there was going to be a sudden change of plans when I got into Kansas.”


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