Here’s something that hasn’t happened before. Texan Kirk Gillock has finished a 4,250-mile solo cycling tour around America in the shape of a large heart.
The purpose of Gillock’s “Heart for America” campaign is to help heal some of the division our country is feeling right now. He believes that it takes both sides, the left and right, to be a stronger country and, just like riding a bicycle, we need balance to keep moving forward. “If we lean too far left or too far right, we will fall and we will fail.” said Gillock. That is why he has his bicycle decorated red on one side (Republicans) and blue on the other side (Democrats). To symbolize the balance our country needs right now.
In 2003, Kirk decided to volunteer as an English teacher in Thailand for a few months but ended up staying 14 years. While there he founded a helmet promotion charity and opened a school to help improve Thai quality of life through education and road safety. After returning to the USA last year, he saw how divided his own country was and decided to do something, not only to reconnect with America but to help reconnect his fellow Americans. Kirk would like us to remember that we all love America, no matter what our political beliefs, and that if we can work together we will all be happier and better off.
Gillock left Austin, TX on August 2nd, 2018 and began cycling northwest along the heart shape route he created, including every type of paved and unpaved road you can imagine. He cycled through west Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Arkansas. He averaged about 70 miles per day and lost over 20 lbs. Some nights he would sleep in a tent but he also stayed in motels, or with friends, whenever possible.
He returned to Austin, Texas on October 26th at 4:35pm, after cycling a total of 4,233 miles and 13 states. Along the way, he met many friendly people and gave them all American heart stickers. Everyone he met loved the message he is promoting.Kirk suffered extreme heat exhaustion, cycled over a 10,100-foot mountain pass, was almost hit by cars (and horses). And he did the whole ride without accepting sponsorship or donations. Bravo!