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  • Mike Kilen
  • Wed July 06 2016
  • Posted Jul 7, 2016

Iowa cyclists who are worried about getting in miles to prepare for the 420-mile RAGBRAI this month should take note of Jack Day for inspiration.

The West Des Moines man pedals across the country every summer on his heavy, steel-framed bicycle loaded with 100 pounds of gear —18,200 miles in four summers —and will start this summer's 4,000-mile journey from near the Canadian border in August.

Day is 72.

What makes him even more interesting is his description of what he is not, detailed during a recent conversation at Gray’s Lake.

He is not racing. He starts out averaging 10 mph and finishes at about 14, considering his legs are like solid tree trunks by then. Young guys he encounters across country are always looking over the next hill, trying to get there. He’s trying to enjoy the moment and talk to people.

He is not into gear. When he got the idea for his first ride in 2011, a 4,100-mile trip from San Francisco to New York City, he bought a $220 Schwinn from Walmart and took off without waterproof bags or much training. He still just pedals without toe clips or clip-on bike shoes as if he were taking a trip to the grocery store.

He is not raising money. Many cross-country adventurers, whether running, walking, skating, one-legged hopping, etc., seem to be promoting a cause. He has no sponsors and the only thing he is promoting is good health in your senior years but, mainly, to be unafraid to have fun.

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