Pedaling Again

Repost from Illinois Times

“Recycled America”

Joe Bowen pedals all over the country — again

There comes a time in a man’s life where he feels at ease in a hotel lobby across the street from the state Capitol, dressed in a lime-green fluorescent jacket, black tights, and nylon-mesh shoes that are something between ballet slippers and football cleats. Joe Bowen is anything but in-between. He’s all-out — always has been. A former construction worker, Bowen is a student of history and literature who can tell you all about Miguel de Cervantes and John Steinbeck. Just look at his bicycle, a Trek 520 with ungodly fat tires that marries two giants of literature separated by more than four centuries. “Rocinante” reads the well-worn red lettering stuck to the bike’s dirt-caked frame. “That’s the name of Don Quixote’s horse,” Bowen explains. It is also, he adds, the name of Steinbeck’s truck, which the author drove across America, recounting the journey in the bestselling book Travels with Charley. Quixote’s steed was a broken-down nag, Steinbeck’s truck a 1960 GMC purchased new. Not quite two years old, Bowen’s bicycle is, at least, the equal of either. It has taken him to Canada. To Big Sur. To Mount Rushmore. To the Grand Canyon. To Niagara Falls. To Gettysburg. And now, today, to Springfield, less than 2,000 miles from home and more than 12,000 miles since he started this journey that defines meandering. (read more here)
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Blog: Eastern Kentucky

Repost from A Drink with a Stranger

“The Top Five Things Joe Told Me” by Phillip McClusky (May 2006)

I have a fairly consistent Saturday morning routine. It involves coffee and… well, coffee. I drink coffee.

It is not an elaborate routine.

So I was just doing what I would normally do a few Saturdays ago, with one exception: I was talking on the phone to Joe, a man in his early 70s from Powell County, Kentucky.

Joe is affable and avuncular: I could feel the southern charm seeping through the phone as we talked, and I felt at ease right away. Talking to him reminded me of how great this project can be—the small connections it can help me make.

He said so many things that I liked. But five stuck with me. (read more here)

Kentucky Living: Bicycling

(repost from Kentucky Living)

“Ride Joe Ride”  by Karen Combs (March 2006)

Kentucky’s two-wheeled ambassador, Joe Bowen, is a lifelong adventure seeker currently completing a 14,000-mile bike trek called Rediscover Bicycle America Project

Joe Bowen is officially an “Unbridled Spirit,” but “determined spirit” may be a better description. The retired grandfather has left his Powell County farm to re-create a bicycle trip that took him through 14,000 miles of America’s back roads in 1967.In the 38 years between journeys, Bowen walked on stilts from California to Kentucky to raise money for muscular dystrophy, walked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon three times, and worked in construction.Those years were also devoted to family and learning. Bowen earned a college degree in humanities at age 35 while working full time, raised three children, and now enjoys nine grandchildren.Students across the country have been following his current adventure through a Web site, www.ridejoeride.org (click on the bicycle icon), that links his trip to educational material and information about eastern Kentucky. This month, at age 62, he begins the final leg of the sequel. (read more here)

NPR: Stiltwalking

Repost from NPR

“A Bird’s-Eye History Of Walking On Stilts” (December 2011)

A couple of years ago, NPR’s Robert Siegel had a 5-year-old kid moment.

He was in the new wing of a hospital watching a workman put up drywall and, as drywall installers are wont to do, the workman reached the top of the wall by walking on stilts.

The 5-year-old inside the radio host was suddenly enchanted by the thought of stilts, so Siegel set out to learn more; first through Google, then from Joe Bowen, who walked more than 3,000 miles across the country on stilts in 1980. (read more here)