Floyds bicycling across country 2008.07.16

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

By DAVID GREEN

It’s easy to talk about the challenges of a cross-country bicycle ride simply because there are so many obstacles to face.

But it’s equally easy to recall the really good times. The sights, the people, the generosity, the camaraderie.

Three members of the Floyd family from Tallahassee, Fla.—Gene, 38, and sons Stefan, 18, and Josh, 15—are sharing the good times and bad as they slowly make their way acfloyds.bikers.jpg ross the continent, from New York City to San Francisco.

Along the way, the trio is hoping to touch a few lives with their message—raising awareness of the role and the importance of fathers in American society.

“We want to promote better relationships between fathers and children,” Gene wrote on their  Ride for Fatherhood website. “While the kids will be enjoying their coast-to-coast vacation, we will also be talking to as many as possible about how we can make a better world for at least some children.”

There have been a lot of good acquaintances made since the Floyds left Queens, N.Y., on June 4.

“We’ve had a lot of chances to talk to people and tell them what we’re doing,” Gene said Thursday afternoon when the trio passed through Morenci.

The Floyds aren’t in a hurry to get the ride over with.

“Most people do the ride in two months,” Stefan said. “We’re doing it in four.”

They’re averaging only 50 miles a day so far, but Gene expects that to increase to 100 when they reach the plains states.

It can’t be a quick trip for Stefan because he has some duties to fulfill along the way. As a member of the Army Reserve, he needs to put in training. His first stop was in Battle Creek last weekend. Oshkosh, Wis., is next on his list.

The Floyds aren’t interested in taking the most direct route, either. There are sights to see and relatives to visit.

From their start in Queens, they pedaled south to Washington, D.C., and rode the C&O Canal Towpath into Maryland. Next came the Great Allegheny Passage. Combined with the C&O, the trails provide a 318-mile non-motorized corridor from Washington to Pittsburgh.

They logged a few more miles on the  Ohio & Erie Canal Trail, but since then they’ve been out on the road with traffic.

The Floyds often don’t know exactly where they’ll travel until they start pedaling down a road.

“We have a basic route picked out, but we change it along the way,” Stefan said.

Someone might suggest a good road or they might be told about a site to visit.

The hills of western Pennsylvania stand as the biggest challenge they’ve faced (Gene was told by a cyclist that they’re worse than the Rockies), but there have also been broken wheel spokes from the rough C&O trail, a heat wave in New Jersey, dodging storms, and making the adjustments to a regimen of long-distance cycling.

“We started off way too heavy and we’ve mailed stuff home,” Gene said.

They sent a package out Thursday from the Lyons post office.

Gene said the people they’ve encountered have been wonderful and they’ve been receptive to the ideas of promoting the importance of a father in the family, of encouraging harmony between embattled couples, and advocating for gender equality in parenting issues.

“I’m really glad we chose to bicycle,” Gene said. “You’re much more connected to people this way.”

While buying a cooling drink at the Morenci Deli, he had a conversation with a man in the parking lot who has trouble being allowed to see his child.

“Children need dads in their lives,” Gene said.

By the time the Floyds ride onto the Golden Gate Bridge, Gene hopes their story will have made a difference in at least a few people’s lives.

• For additional details, or to donate to their ride, visit the website RideForFatherhood.org.

Our mission at Rideforfatherhood.org is best summed up in several simple statements:

   1. To promote effective and responsible fathering regardless of marital or custodial status

   2. To encourage harmony between battling couples for the sake of the children

   3. To advocate for gender equality in parenting issues

   4. To illuminate some of the unique challenges and prejudices faced by single fathers

   5. To show society that men can and often do make effective parents

   6. To educate all that children have a right to a healthy relationship with both parents.

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