In June, former Governor Jack Markell began a cross-country tour of America in an effort to promote healthy living. Riding for Motivate the First State, a group that supports the YMCA of Delaware, Boys & Girls Club of Delaware, Young Life Delaware, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Siegel Jewish Community Center, the former governor hopes his efforts lead people to healthier lifestyles through his Keeping Up With Jack campaign.
“My goal is twofold,” Governor Markell said. “To motivate the citizens of our state to get active and lead healthier lives and to bring much needed funds and resources to some great Delaware organizations. This trip got me into better shape and I got to see this country on bicycle. I also got to raise money to help out children in Delaware. What better combination could there be?” During the trek across the country, Governor Markell raised $120,000 for Motivate the First State.
Governor Markell began his cross-country adventure in Oregon with the wheels of his bicycle in the Pacific Ocean. The former governor began his trip on June 13 at Fort Stevens State Park, riding over 26 miles to the beach so he could dip the back wheel of his bicycle into the Pacific to officially launch his cross country trip. Throughout his journey, Governor Markell posted to his Twitter account, on his Facebook page and posted blog entries as he saw the sites that make this country great.
“One day down, 49 to go,” he posted on his first day on the road. “Made it to St. Helens, Oregon, after riding 68.4 miles, climbing 2,802 feet and averaging 14.3 miles per hour. Earned a delicious milkshake from Burgerville.” The post included the Burgerville sign announcing that they were hiring people 18 or older and “fully available.” A day later, he posted that a friend who had taken a bicycle ride across the country advised him to never look at a map of the whole country to see what progress he was making. Governor Markell decided that was sound advice and noted that he had “one day down and 49 to go.”
On July 4, Governor Markell posted that he was in Dubois, Wyoming after traveling over 53 miles which included a descent of over 2,900 feet into the Continental Divide.
“We feel very lucky to have spent Independence Day at that magnificent spot,” he said. “Our country is divided in so many ways, but standing here at an elevation of 9,600 feet with beauty all around us, all of us realize how fortunate we are to be Americans.” Later in the day, he posted a photo of the Independence Day Parade in the Wyoming town where his group paused to celebrate the founding of the country.
Across the country, photos and posts on his Facebook page as well of descriptions of what he saw and felt as he traveled across the country demonstrated how much the former governor enjoyed seeing as much of the country as he could. On August 8, one day later than he planned, Governor Markell dipped his front bike tire into the Atlantic Ocean in Rehoboth Beach, ending his cross-country trek.
Initially, the group was planning to end their ride in New Hampshire, but a fellow Delawarean, Dave Ford, told him ending his trip in Delaware made more sense. Mr. Ford pointed out that “he was not governor” of New Hampshire, he was governor of Delaware.
Bike Delaware has named Governor Markell as America’s most “Bicycle Friendly” Governor. In 2015, Delaware became the third best bike friendly state in the country according to a ranking by the League of American Bicyclists. In 2008, the same organization ranked Delaware 31st. Under his administration, Delaware improved trails and pathways to make Delaware a more bikeable state because the governor felt it would improve the quality of life in communities.
“With a dip of my front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean in Rehoboth Beach, I completed my final 111 miles at an average speed of 16.3 miles per hour,” Governor Markell posted in his final trip blog. “Thank you tailwind! Thanks also to the dozens of cyclists who joined this last trip as well as the teams from DelDOT and the Rehoboth Police Department who were so helpful. Although I rode across the country, there is no place like Delaware. The scenery, the warmth of the people and our support of each other all make us The First State in so many ways. I am so glad to be home. Thanks to Carla and my whole family for your support of this trip. Thanks to my fellow cyclists for keeping me going. Thanks to those who kept me healthy, prepared me and supported me in every way. Ride on.”
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