In 1986, Lodi native Greg Wright decided on a whim in his college years that he and his friends would ride bicycles from Lodi to Boston. He always held onto the desire to make the journey again.
Now, 37 years later as a 60-year-old geography teacher at Lodi High School, he will pedal his way from his Lodi home to Boston beginning Saturday with a goal of completing the journey by July 2. And this time, it’s for a good cause.
Wright laughs when he thinks about that decades-old memory.
“There was no rhyme or reason — we just rode out, we did not go in a straight line … We did a total of 5,525 miles,” he said.
“I’m not getting any younger … and I’ve got one more year of teaching, so I’ve been thinking about it.” Luckily for him, this time around he will not be lugging food, biking gear, sleeping necessities and other equipment during his trip, because his high school best friend will be cruising along in a car beside him.
“I was in Europe, and I was with my wife this last summer talking to bicyclists and saying, ‘Can I pick up your bike?’ And oh my gosh, they’re over 100 pounds when you carry all of your gear,” he said. “So, to have somebody driving and bringing the things you need at night and then someone bringing you food, that’s just a huge help.”
He plans to bring two bikes, including his Trek Emonda SLR 6 road bike, which is a climbing bike, and a Trek touring bike to which he can add panniers — bike bag accessories to carry items.
Wright recalled how, on his college bike ride, he and his friends camped out after the long hours of biking for miles, but said this time he would be staying at hotels and has put rest days into his schedule.
He believes he will spend about 10 hours a day biking, with outlets for entertainment such as music, podcasts and trying to improve his Spanish.
“[T]to have somebody driving and bringing the things you need at night and then someone bringing you food, that’s just a huge help.”Greg Wright
Although Wright’s first ride was for fun, his new adventure will include trying to raise money for two purposes.
As one of Lodi High School’s track and field coaches, he wants to raise money for the program for more equipment as well as for the organization Giving Opportunities to Kids, also known as GOT Kids.
GOT Kids’ mission is to support children in the Lodi Unified School District to provide opportunities outside of the classroom to help them explore their talents, interests, and skills.
A penny a mile … or perhaps more
One of the themes for the bike ride is “a penny a mile,” meaning for each mile Wright rides, people can donate as little as a penny.
“That’s all we ask, and I am hoping people will just say ‘Oh that’s great … I’ll pitch in $10, $100, $1,000’ … whatever (amount) people are comfortable with,” he said.
Additionally, Wright wants to promote the idea of supporting local businesses, more specifically local bike shops.
He said that during the pandemic he was riding bikes a lot and began shopping online for a bike, but after finally visiting his former college bike shop in Davis, the salesperson was able to explain that the bike he had in mind was not suited for him.
Ultimately, not only was he able to save $2,500 on a bike, but more importantly, he purchased a bike that fit his needs.
“The idea is that when everybody shops online, they just don’t know what they’re getting,” he said. “If you just go to your local bike shop from the beginning or your local running shoe store … Just go to your local merchants, they have the expertise.”
During the time leading up to his big bike ride, Wright began to train by swimming with his wife, attending classes to work on the core muscles of his stomach and hips, riding with a Lodi cycling club and tracking his miles after his rides.
“What I need to do is slow down and make sure I’m getting enough calories and taking care of my body, stretching and rolling … I’ll probably call my physical therapist every day,” he said.
People who wish to donate to Wright’s ride can do so online.
Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.