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A Message from Jack’s Parents

Dear Friends of Jack,

With a heavy heart and too much sadness to comprehend, we wanted to let you know that our beloved son, Jack, died unexpectedly this past Friday evening in his home. We still do not know what happened and we may never know. At this time, it looks and feels like an unintentional, tragic accident. What we do know is that Jack had never been a happier person right up until the moment he left us.  He was in high spirits and optimistic about his relationship with his loving girlfriend, Grace, and looking forward to his senior year and beyond.

Jack was a beautiful person with a sense of kindness toward others that is so very rare.

Since we know that Jack made many personal connections with many folks along his bike trip this summer, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or if you simply want to talk about Jack. John Linger’s email is lingerjs@gmail.com and Kathleen’s email is lingerkath@gmail.com. It may take a week or to respond but we will be in touch.

In lieu of flowers and in remembrance of Jack, you can make donations to the Adventure Cycling Association. [Note: This link has been updated to take you to the page created in memory of Jack].  ACA has many opportunities to give back including a scholarship program for others to have a similar opportunity like Jack’s. Another organization that Jack loved was the National Outdoor Leadership School. Please be sure to indicate the gift is in honor of Jack Linger.

Godspeed Jack.

John and Kathleen Linger

Reflections from the Road

Honestly, yesterday felt pretty weird. I wasn’t on my bike, I wasn’t constantly trying to figure out where I was on a map, and I wasn’t interviewing people I met. While I had dreamed of making it to the Atlantic for almost two months, I wish I was still out there on the bike. I loved waking up everyday and biking and meeting folks from all walks of life. I already miss their stories and their support. I also loved seeing new places and doing things I never thought I would be able to do.I guess I should feel proud of my accomplishment, but it really just feels like a part of me is missing. I did come away with a very strong sense of hope for America and the beautiful world around us.

As I reflect, I would like to share some of the most important things I’ve learned. I went across America with three interview questions, but my experience wasn’t limited to those three driving questions.
These questions will be guiding my school project in the fall.

  1. Is our country heading in the right direction?
  2.   What could be done to make our country better?
  3. What current issues matter most to you?

They serve as a tool for uncovering what people really care about in their lives. I remember before I left, I spent a lot of time crafting these question so I could get a broad range of responses. I also got a lot better at interviewing people along the way. In the beginning, I was always very nervous interviewing someone and now I don’t even think twice about it. I sought out the stories of the folks along the way as well as their answers to my three interview questions.

The last interview of my trip was with a member of the House of Representatives for Maine, Thom Harnett. He also happens to be my uncle, which made it very easy to get an interview with him in Brunswick. His facial hair is far more impressive than mine and he is a very kind man. Before working for the State of Maine, he was the Mayor of Gardiner, Maine and with the Attorney General’s office for many years. We chatted about how our nation is moving in different directions in different levels of government. Like others I had spoken to, Thom was proud to see the progress made by local communities all over the country. To him, we need more of a focus on issues such as climate change in our federal and state legislatives. Lastly, it was great to hear how much he cares about his family and our planet.

I have learned so much from this incredible journey and I am just starting to unpack it all and truly understand what I experienced. I will return home with a fresh set of eyes and an enriched perspective of the world. I’ve learned to savor the present and the good nature of complete strangers. I would like to thank everyone for their support! Thank you to all of my blog followers and please feel free to share your responses to my three questions. You may me respond below or email me at 20linger@da.org

 

Day 52: Bridgton, ME to Brunswick, ME

After 52 days, with only 2 days off, I made it to the Atlantic Ocean! It has been an incredible journey and I have walked (biked) away with a completely new perspective of our beautiful nation. I would like to thank everyone for their support and I will post a more detailed update/reflection soon. Currently, I am just enjoying the present and some fresh seafood!

Dipping my tires in the Atlantic!!!

Day 51: Fairlee, VT to Bridgton, ME

Today was a day that I live for as both a cyclist and a fan of adventure. It was a day of impressive numbers. I climbed 5,600 feet and biked about 100 miles through the rain over several mountain passes. It was only fitting that the penultimate day would have the most feared pass on the East Coast because my second day on the West Coast had the worst pass in that region of the country. Today’s main event was the Kacamagus Pass with a large unnamed pass leading up to it. It was just like day two of my trip, Washington pass with a smaller and less well known pass right before it. Oh, and this gets even better. Months ago, my Dad’s chain fell off coming down Washington Pass and today the same thing happened coming down Kacamagus Pass. I thought that was kind of freaky. I’m so glad that my Dad joined me for the first few and last few days of this adventure but I’m sure he wishes his chains stayed put on those crazy passes. I had a lot fun heading through the mountains for the last time and I will definitely miss the climbs and views. I pedaled through three different states today and once I got to Maine we were saved by the kindness of the motel owner. She lent us her car so we could make the mile and half drive into town for dinner. This trip has opened my eyes and given me so much hope in our beautiful nation.

 

The sunrise in Vermont

The morning glow in New Hampshire

The first pass into what I would call a forested canyon

Just a nice steep road sign (9% grade)

Watch out for the Moose!

A warm welcome from Maine

The east coast’s scariest pass (it wasn’t very hard)

A pretty cool photo of me

Shall I hike home? (Appalachian Trail)

Local land debate

Sorry I missed cows

Day 50: Middlebury, to Fairlee, VT

I rode into New Hampshire and back into Vermont today! It was a beautiful ride up Middlebury gap and along the White River into New Hampshire, and up the Connecticut River back into Vermont. It was a steep climb (12% grade at times!) up the gap as the sun rose over the Green Mountains. I guess they call mountain passes “gaps” in this part of the country. Middlebury Gap was only about 2,000 feet, but the climbing was spread out over only six miles. This made it one of the steepest climbs of the trip so far. As I passed through the rest of Vermont, I made an effort to stop at the country stores. In Vermont, the country store serves as the center of the community. They offer far more than just maple candies and Red Bull. Folks hang out on the porches and come together as neighbors and friends. At my first store in the town of Rochester, I met some very kind locals. They told me of their hopes of their future and how they believe in the power of people and nature. I also enjoyed a really good bagel. I went out on a limb and got the one with dill and onion. It was a pleasant surprise. While going down the White River, I stopped for some fantastic maple ice cream in the middle of the forest. If you didn’t know by now, ice cream makes excellent biking fuel! At lunch, I stopped at the country store in Sharon to get another Gatorade. I ended up getting much more than just some electrolytes. After chatting with some locals there, I learned they had completely opposite views from the folks in Rochester. They were extremely worried about our nation’s future and are fearful of the growing effects of climate change. I love finding opposite perspectives in just one day and in the same state! I then crossed over into New Hampshire, only to turn back into Vermont. I had a few more small climbs into town and arrived just ahead of a large storm. I’m excited to knock off New Hampshire tomorrow!

 

Robert Frost National Forest!!!

Father and son bonding!

Me at Bread Loaf

Country store number 1

Yes, that sign does say 12% grade

Maple ice cream!

A pretty stretch of road

The White River

Country Store number 2

Blueberry Milk!

Pro solar sign in Hanover, NH

 

Day 49: Rest Day!

Today was my first real rest day in 37 days and it was special as my Dad has joined me for the next few days (which are my last days on this trip). We decided to go down memory lane as I grew up nearby. In the morning, I had a fantastic tour at Middlebury and met some very nice folks. Then, we checked out all of my old stomping grounds. We went to my favorite playground at the Red Mill Restaurant and my old house in the town of Charlotte. Charlotte, Vermont is pronounced completely differently than Charlotte, North Carolina. My hometown in Vermont is pronounced like “Charlot”. That was very confusing for my parents when we moved to North Carolina. Anyways, I had a lot of fun and ate a ton of food as I prepare for the final push!

No “NIMBY” in Vermont! (“Not in my backyard”)

The playground of my youth!

My old house!

Best ham ever!

Me in town

Dinner with the Klinkenbergs

Day 48: Schroon Lake, NY to Middlebury, VT

Today was spectacular! It was an absolutely beautiful ride from New York, through the Champlain Valley and into Vermont. I rode with a college friend of my mom’s named RB Klinkenberg. He lives in Burlington, Vermont and took me through some of his favorite places. We checked out Fort Ticonderoga and the rest of the Lake Champlain area. Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful rides of the trip so far and I used to live nearby! (I lived in Vermont from when I was one until I was five and I moved to North Carolina). I had a lot of fun and I look forward to a rest day tomorrow before the final push!

Down the big hill! (A 1000 foot drop)

Look it’s me!

The cable ferry

RB Klinkenberg

Day 47: Old Forge, NY to Schroon Lake, NY

Today was blissful. I don’t know if it was the other worldly morning mist or the raw beauty of the wilderness, but today was absolutely spectacular. I biked 90 miles and climbed almost 4500 feet and I enjoyed every moment. I even enjoyed my 20 miles of road construction in the morning. I took the opportunity to talk to the construction workers as I waited in line. They are definitely some of the nicest and most entertaining folks I have ever met. I passed through areas that were home to some of America’s first wilderness preserves and first outdoor tourism destinations. I even had the lunch of champions today – -a pint of ice cream and Red Bull! After my fantastic meal, I met a college cross country coach with great stories about Glacier National Park, a place that we both love. He wished me the best of luck as I continued through the mountains. I had a few more steep climbs until I got to the town of North Creek. There, I stopped by a righteous bakery and had a great chat with locals about commercial composting. Again, everyone was so kind and happy to see me exploring our beautiful country. After some more steep climbs (I’m sorry the roads in the Adirondacks are very, very steep), I reached Schroon Lake. I quickly learned that it is pronounced like “Skroon” lake, but they just spell is with a “ch” instead of a “k”. I had a great chat with a local named Richard. He was a believer in the Constitution. He didn’t care if a candidate was red or blue, all he cared about is whether their policy was constitutional. We talked about border control, capitalism vs socialism, global trade, and the Equal Rights Act. He was the embodiment of the American Dream. I learned a lot from our talk and I love witnessing all these different perspectives. I look forward into crossing into a past home state of mine tomorrow, Vermont!

 

Seventh Lake

The righteous bakery

Leaving the park

“Freedom isn’t Free”

The magical sunrise

Richard

Day 46: Pulaski, NY to Old Forge, NY

I will never forget today. It was a long, but beautiful ride in the rain to Old Forge. I traveled through the scenic and surprisingly steep Adirondack Mountains. I passed through a lot of pretty little towns along the route. They were all of great historical significance and had many lovely little buildings. The homes each had their own stone walls. It felt as if I was biking through a Robert Frost poem. There were only a handful of small farms along the route as I made my way back into the mountains. I met a lot of kind locals who gave me many words of encouragement as they saw me pass by in the rain. It felt pretty great to get to town after another 3600 feet of climbing. I talked to some locals about the upside and downside of the tourism. They said while they enjoy the economic boom, they worry that the tourism and the waste produced by it is harming the local water sources such as the Moose River. To them, it was a worth the trade off. I then went to a great pizza place they recommended. Overall, I learned a lot about New York and myself today.

A misty lake

Interesting building

A cool house

Escaping the rain

A typical cheese grater style bridge

The Moose River

 

Day 45: Newark, NY to Pulaski, NY

Today was a day of ice cream! I stopped at two different ice cream stands and got ice cream at a gas station. It was a lovely ride under the blazing sun and through terrain best described as mountainous. Regardless of what the maps says, it was a beautiful 86 miles with 3600 feet of climbing. I passed by serval fruit stands in the morning and ate as many blueberries as I possibly could. It was really nice to see that the family farms are alive and well. I only saw one corporate farm all day! In the afternoon, I got soft serve at two righteous looking soft serve stands. I even had a cherry float with real cherries in it. I met plenty of locals who wished me luck and took great care in my safety on the ride today. After what I thought was a long day on the road, I heard what the Bike Loud guys did today as they rolled into Pulaski. They had biked over a hundred miles today and climbed even more than I did. We had a fun dinner and went grocery shopping tonight. We did this all under a giant storm cloud that I’m sure will hit us tonight and tomorrow. This storm looks huge and I’ve seen a lot of nasty storms on this trip. It was great to spend more time with the Bike Loud guys. Their perspective of America’s broken system, climate change, the value of meaningful relationships in life really struck me. I love getting to meet so many people and I look forward to more!

 

3 “Don’t tread on me” and 1 confederate flag today

A family orchard

The daily closed road

Cool building

I’ve cream stand number 1

Berry stand!

Berries

The storm

Ice cream stand number 2