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Bicycling for the homeless

David Jones is literally riding around the United States to raise awareness of the homeless problem

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - David Jones began a 12,000-mile long bike ride last weekend to benefit the homeless. During the 10-month ride, he will collect donations on his website while providing frequent Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube updates.

When cyclist David Jones passes through Prineville today, he will have logged about 150 miles since leaving his Vancouver, Wash. home on Saturday.
   He will still have a very long bike ride ahead of him.
   Jones is riding 12,000 miles in the next 10 months to raise money to combat homelessness. He has worked with Share, a Vancouver-area homeless shelter for the past six years. All proceeds will benefit the organization.
   “The purpose of this ride is to raise some money and awareness for homelessness and hunger,” he said.
   When Jones took up cycling two years ago, he didn’t exactly ease into the new hobby.
   “I rode across the United States for the first time with just a little over 100 miles of training,” he recalls.
   The experience helped prepare Jones for his upcoming journey.
   “That was quite a learning curve and a fitness curve,” he said. “I had been a runner for much of my life, and so I was in generally good shape, but cycling is far different than running.”
   Having spent about 25 years in the health care software industry, Jones has already travelled through much of the country. But he noticed during his first cross-county bike ride that the nation looks a lot different from a bicycle, particularly when it comes to the economic well-being of individual communities.
   “What I found was that there are a lot of people out there in the country that are hurting financially, and I think that was the part I was unprepared for the last time,” Jones said. “(I was) riding through towns that were virtually shuttered up by the economic downturn and policies enacted over the last three decades.”
   The experience has only reinforced his desire to raise money and awareness for homelessness.
   “I think it’s important that people know that there are a lot Americans who are what I call on the edge of homelessness,” Jones said. “That is, they are one economic event away from being out on the streets. I don’t think the average American knows that.”
   During his ride, Jones will essentially follow the perimeter of the United States. From Prineville, he will traverse a network of roads and highways along the northern portion of the nation to Bar Harbor, Maine. From there, he will follow the Atlantic coastline to St. Augustine, Fla., then bike west to San Diego, Calif., before heading north up the Pacific Coast to his Vancouver starting point.
   If 12,000 miles by bike wasn’t ambitious enough, Jones has set a lofty $100,000 fundraising goal to match.
   “That is a huge amount in this day and age,” he remarked.
   To attain that dollar amount, Jones will utilize his website to collect donations, and lean heavily on the increasingly popular social media sites to steer people to that site. He is providing access to a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, and YouTube channel on the website, all of which he intends to update frequently during his journey. Jones will upload data from a computer GPS that tracks his progress, and tweet the results. In addition, he packed a small digital video camera, and plans to upload footage of his trek as he goes.
   Jones will cover all 12,000 miles unsupported – with no van or other vehicle shadowing him – so he is pulling a trailer that, when loaded, weighs about 40 pounds. Along with his laptop and video equipment, he has packed a tent, a few changes of clothes, and some tools and spare inner tubes.
   “The whole idea is to keep it as light as possible,” he remarked.
   David Jones will pass through Prineville on his 12,000-mile fundraiser bike ride on Friday, May 25. To make a donation to the Share homeless shelter or track Jones’ progress during his bicycle ride, visit www.rollingacrossamerica.org.