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HOME, BUT STILL HELMETED

Jackson_elmerElmer Jackson, fuzzier, lighter and still wearing his helmet, was all smiles Thursday.

A 111-mile sprint took him from the outskirts of Wilmington, Delaware to Freehold, New Jersey Tuesday.

Elmer Jackson just wanted to be home after pedaling his way across America.

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NO REGRETS, AND ‘NO PLACE LIKE HOME’

Jacksons_returnElmer Jackson and his son, Jeff (in red shirt) make their triumphal return up Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank Thursday afternoon after a cross-country bike tour that began in San Francisco June 3.

The event, involving a police and fire escort to the West Side Christian Academy, where the Jacksons teach, was largely ceremonial. It turned out Elmer’s eagerness to get them home did just that a day early, and so they spent Wednesday night “at a secret, undisclosed location,” Elmer joked.

As for his thoughts after the 4,200-mile trek, Elmer had one foremost in his mind, he said: “There’s no place like home.”

redbankgreen will have more pix and info Friday. Meantime, if you’re new to this saga, check out our special No Regrets archive of stories and photos.

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BACK IN JERSEY, HOMING IN ON RED BANK

Img_0571Elmer and Jeff Jackson at the fog-wrapped Golden Gate Bridge as they prepared to start their ride June 3. (Photos by Tim Hathaway.)

Two months and countless pedal strokes later, the No Regrets cross-country bike tour arrives in New Jersey this morning.

Father-and-son sojourners Elmer and Jeff Jackson are expected to reach Red Bank between 2 and 4p on Thursday, when they’ll be met by representatives of the Red Bank police and fire departments for an escort to the West Side Christian Academy, the private school they run with other family members on Bridge Avenue.

The ride, which we’ve chronicled on redbankgreen, was a fundraiser for the school.

We reached Jeff, who traded his bike for the steering wheel of their sag wagon about a third of the way, this morning just as he and his father were about to cross the Delaware River into New Jersey on the Commodore John Barry Bridge.

“He can’t cross the bridge on bike — it’s against the law,” Jeff said of Elmer. “So I’m looking for a place where I can pick him up and drive him across.”

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BIKE TOUR FINDS ITS LEGS IN KANSAS

Red_bank_riders_2_2Elmer Jackson makes it to the peak of a monster incline in Colorado late last month. (Photo courtesy of Tim Hathaway)

Two weeks after the sudden departure of their one-man support crew, Elmer and Jeff Jackson’s pedalthon from San Francisco to Sandy Hook has picked up steam.

redbankgreen caught up with the Jacksons by phone on Sunday, our first contact with them since sagmobile driver and documentarist Tim Hathaway flew home to Red Bank late last month, deliberately forcing an ailing Jeff off his bike and into the car.

They were in Hutchinson, Kansas, just about halfway home on their ‘No Regrets‘ tour and they were about to catch a matinee of ‘Hancock‘ following an easy 50-ride by Elmer that morning.

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SAGMAN QUITS ‘NO REGRETS’ TOUR

Elmer_jeffElmer and Jeff Jackson ride through a tunnel in Red Canyon, Utah last Tuesday. (Photos by Tim Hathaway)

Tim Hathaway, the journalist who was serving as driver and documentarian for the ‘No Regrets’ cross-country bike ride of fellow Red Bankers Elmer and Jeff Jackson, suddenly left the tour late last week.

From his blog posting dated Saturday, June 28:

On Friday, June 27 I returned to New Jersey. It was not an easy decision, but after considering my options and much prayer, I left the road because I felt that it was the best decision for the success of the trip.

From this point forward, Jeff will take over the duties of sag driver and Rev. Jackson will continue riding. The No Regrets Bike Ride will go on without me, but I will do my best to keep everyone posted on their progress.

The ride — a 4,244-mile fundraiser for the West Side Christian Academy, which Elmer Jackson founded and where his son, Jeff, is a teacher — began June 3 in San Francisco and is to continue to Sandy Hook. Last we heard, the riders were in central Utah, facing tall mountains with steep grades and temperatures frequently above 100 degrees.

The tour has been marked by repeated cases of heat stroke and fatigue on Jeff’s part.

Hathaway tells redbankgreen via email that he left “not because I think they can’t finish but rather in order that they may finish in the safest manner.”

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BIKERS FACING DOUBTS, AND MOUNTAINS

Img_1015Elmer Jackson, left, and his son, Jeff, on their arrival in Utah. (Photos by Tim Hathaway)Img_0978

Last week saw some ups and downs for Red Bank’s intrepid cross-country bikers, Elmer and Jeff Jackson.

Both father and son had some serious battles with uncertainty. But Jeff’s were more manifest: while Elmer was notching one day’s ride after another, Jeff spent almost as much time in the car with sagman/blogmeister Tim Hathaway as he did in the saddle.

At his doctor’s suggestion, Jeff had stopped taking a medication that made him sweat, and thus more prone to heat exhaustion. But coming off it left him lethargic.

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BIKE TREK: MOUNTAIN MEN, FINALLY

Img_0694A milestone passed enroute to Nevada. (Photo by Tim Hathaway)

After a two-day layover forced by illness, father and son Elmer and Jeff Jackson were back in the saddle this week, topping their first mountain and crossing their first state border.

Tuesday saw the Red Bank educators climb 3,000 feet while traveling 33.5 miles from Cook’s Station, Calif. to Carson Pass, a leg sagman/journalist/blogger Tim Hathaway called “the most brutal climb of their lives.”

Heat exhaustion got the better of Jeff last week, leading to the tourist-interruptus. But after Tuesday’s leg, he was clearly feeling better. From Tim’s blog:

After conquering their first mountain, I pointed my camera at them, and instead of exulting in the pride of accomplishment, Jeff, the head teacher of the boys’ classroom at [West Side Christian Academy], used the moment to speak to his students.

“If we can climb a mountain, you can do whatever is in front of you,” he said hunched over his handled bars, searching for breath. “If we can climb a mountain, whatever mountain you have in your life, climb it.”

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BIKE TOUR: HEAT SLOWS PAIR’S PROGRESS

Img_0612Img_0615Steep elevations and heat proved to be major challenges in the first week of Elmer and Jeff Jackson’s cross-country bike ride. At left, Jeff copes with fatigue.

Elmer and Jeff Jackson’s ‘No Regrets’ fundraising bike ride across America was slowed late last week when Jeff suffered heat exhaustion on day three and couldn’t shake it over the next two days, leading to a couple of days rest for him and his father back in San Francisco.

Beset by “dizziness, nausea, and terrible pain. I wanted to quit,” Jeff writes in his tour blog. “But my dad got me through it. He kept talking to me, encouraging me, pushing me to keep going on.”

That was Thursday, day three of the tour. The Jacksons, raising money for Red Bank’s West Side Christian Academy, completed just 46.5 miles of a planned 75-mile jaunt (most of it uphill) that day. Jeff walked the last mile, but “then it got worse. I started cramping in both calves and my right thigh.”

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DAY ONE: 20 MILES, SANS MAP

Img_0571Elmer and Jeff Jackson at the fog-wrapped Golden Gate Bridge as they prepared to start their ride yesterday. (Photos by Tim Hathaway.)

The father-and-son pair Elmer and Jeff Jackson completed the first 20 miles yesterday of what we’re now told will be a 4,244-mile bike ride.

Looks like they did some sightseeing at San Francisco’s Presidio before they got very far. Advance man and sag driver Tim Hathaway reports on his blog:

There is a veterans cemetery with thousands of headstones dating back through the mid 1800s. Over 450 of them are that of Buffalo Soldiers, an appellation native American Indians gave black regiments during the Indian Wars.

Then the Jacksons ferried north to Vallejo, where they started their fundraising trek in earnest.

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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.”

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RIDING ACROSS AMERICA, ALL ZIPPERED UP

Jacksons2Rev. Elmer Jackson, left , and his son, Jeff, in training at WOW in Middletown.

By TIM HATHAWAY

Before having open heart surgery in June 2006, Rev. Elmer Jackson met a bicyclist who had already been through the procedure.

“He said I was going to be part of the ‘Zipper Club,'” Jackson recalled, as he pointed to the area where the doctors would make the incision in his chest. The stitches leave marks that turn one’s torso into something resembling a duffel bag.

According to the American Heart Association, about 700,000 people undergo open heart surgery each year. But it’s probaby a safe bet that few Zipper Club members ride a bicycle across the continental United States to celebrate.

This year, on June 1, Jackson — the founder and principal of the West Side Christian Academy — and his son, Jeff, will set out from the San Francisco area and trek 3,500 miles across deserts, mountains, rivers and plains to Sandy Hook. The expect to arrive on July 5, averaging 100 miles of leg-pumping a day.

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