BIKING HOME FROM THE REAL WEST SIDE

Img_0559Ups_arrivesElmer Jackson poses at left with Kevin the UPS guy and the bikes that finally arrived in San Francisco Monday.

In photo above, that’s Jeff Jackson in foreground with, from left, Ron (no last name available), Elmer, Elmer’s sister, Joyce Tanaka, and brother Rudy, a former Oakland Raiders lineman. (Photos by Tim Hathaway)

Just over four months ago, redbankgreen told you about Elmer and Jeff Jackson, the father-son pair who run the West Side Christian Academy, and their plan to bike across the U.S.

Well, they’re finally on the road. After a UPS mixup delayed the arrival of their bikes by a couple of days, the Jacksons were at the Golden Gate Bridge just about to shove off when redbankgreen reached them by phone this afternoon.

And what’s on Jeff’s mind as he stands with his bike beneath that glorious piece of engineering? Mountains, he says.

“Mountains, mountains, and more mountains,” he says. “It’s exhilarating, but it’s also just a huge endeavor.”

Jacksons2The Jacksons training at WOW in Middletown earlier this year.

The pair’s destination is Sandy Hook, roughly 3,500 miles to the east. Their goal, besides proving they can do it, is to raise $100,000 for a new home for the 25-student K-8 academy Elmer founded and runs with his son, wife and daughter. It’s now housed at Calvary Baptist Church on Bridge Avenue.

Accompanying them is journalist Tim Hathaway of Red Bank, who met the Jacksons when he wrote that feature story for redbankgreen in January; he started volunteering at their school soon afterward.

Hathaway is driving the sag wagon: a brand-new Honda Civic hybrid the Jacksons bought immediately on arrival (they needed a new car anyway, Tim tells us).

“I’m going to be the driver for the next two months,” Tim wrote in a blogpost over the weekend.

As the start of the trip neared, each of the three was feeling a bit philosophical.

In a podcast he recorded this morning, Elmer said he was

“nervous but excited. We got to California and found mountains that I’m not quite ready for, but Tim tells me we’re going to be able to skirt the mountains and get to destination and still save legs. So in a couple of days we’ll starting hitting real mountains, but for now we’re going to have some fun.”

Here’s an excerpt from a blogpost by Tim late last week, before they headed west:

Needless to say there’s more to it that dollars and bikes. I could just as easily say this is about Rev. JacksonÂ’s health, because he had triple bypass surgery about two years ago. Perhaps it’s about a son and his relationship with his father, who has always dreamed dreams bigger than himself. Maybe it’s about a reporter looking for a story, an adventure, any change so he can stop spinning the wheels of his life.

The only theme that has been consistent in my interaction with Rev. Jackson and Jeff so far is Providence. I think we all have a sense that there is a spiritual logic to our fellowship. There’s simply more to this trip than any of us can guess.

And here’s Jeff’s post from Tuesday morning, shortly before they left the West Side of America:

So today I awake to the reality that I am starting something amazing. I will head down to the Golden Gate Bridge, and start my journey Home, and maybe to a new me.

redbankgreen will be checking in periodically on the trio’s progress. Readers needing a more immediate fix can check in on:

Jeff’s MySpace page

Tim’s personal blog

To make a pledge or donation, call the West Side Christian Academy at 732.741.7900 or e-mail here.

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