June 22, 2018
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Iowa cyclist seeks Mainers willing to lend a couch and a shower

Jack Day | BDN
Jack Day | BDN
Jack Day of Des Moines, Iowa, bikes Highway 50 in Nevada in June 2011 as part of a cross-country cycling trip.
By Jackie Farwell, BDN Staff

An Iowa man will travel the length of Maine by bicycle this summer as part of a nearly 5,000-mile trip to promote the benefits of exercise.

Jack Day, a 68-year-old retired videographer, plans to start pedaling from his home in Des Moines during the first week of July and arrive in Maine in early August. He’ll enter the state at Estcourt Station on the Maine-Quebec border, then head south along Route 1 for a two-week bike to Kittery.

From there, Day will travel the final coastal leg for a late October dismount at the beaches of Key West, Fla.

For hospitality during the trip, he’ll rely upon the kindness of strangers. After spending hours at the handlebars, one comfort will take precedence over even a few hours of shuteye, Day said.

“The biggest thing you need is not a place to sleep, but a place to shower,” he said.

Day has lined up accommodations in southern Maine, but he’s still looking for a few generous souls in Fort Kent, Van Buren, Danforth and Baileyville to lend him a couch or a patch of grass for his tent.

Day’s not picky. As long as the shower is wet and the ground is flat, he’s happy, he said.

Day has showered at rodeo grounds, recreation centers and fire stations and made camp at a cemetery. A Nevada sheriff once put him up in a jail cell and had his wife bring Day supper. (Things took a turn later that night, when Day lost $25 in a poker game with the lawman’s friends.)

Day’s devotion to exercise started on a bike path in a small park near his home.

“I started meeting people on the trail and I just got hooked,” he said.

The experience led Day to embark last year on a cross-country trip from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Times Square in New York City. His trusty steed: a $240 Schwinn he picked up at Walmart.

“It was amazing, it lasted all the way,” he said.

Day’s interactions with like-minded adventurers are the highlight of his travels, he said, along with proving to curious onlookers that fitness knows no age.

“I’ve met more new people in the last year than I have in the last 30,” he said.

Unmarried and a father to three grown children, Day enjoys uncommon freedom to set off on months-long biking excursions.

“I’ve inspired people to get back into exercise,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to me. This year I’ll really push it.”

He’s not ruling out a little two-wheeled romance on this trek, either.

For more on Day’s trip, including photos and a map of the Maine leg, visit his website at jacksvelosafari.shutterfly.com.

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