MISSOULA – One man is biking his way from New York City to Alaska as part of his graduate research in statistics.
John Schwenck is making his way through the state right now and MTN News caught up with him during a weekend stop in Missoula.
Schwenck, 25, is a researcher from New Jersey.
“Even in sports — I was a lineman, but I was the lightest lineman. In rugby, I was the eight man, but I wasn’t quick enough and I wasn’t big enough — but I was tough enough. I was tougher than anyone you could ever imagine,” he said.
“All of the sudden, a couple years ago, the doctors were like, ‘hey did anyone ever tell you, you got a heart murmur’?” Schwenck recalled.
He has an enlarged aortic root and a bicuspid aortic valve but with his doctor’s approval, Schwenk is biking almost 6,000 miles from New York City to Alaska this summer.
“Nothing motivates me more than doubt. I think doubt is one of the strongest motivators and emotions in humans. I just don’t think enough people capitalize on that,” he told MTN News.
His parents tried to take a similar trip when they were his age but it was cut short when they found out his mom was pregnant. Now, 25 years later, Schwenck is using his dad’s old bike to finish what they started.
“They’re obviously a huge inspiration for me,” he said.
Schwenck is documenting everything and collecting data for grad research during his trip and will analyze 25-to-30 variables including sleep, diet, and, of course, exercise.
He headed to Polson on Sunday and then was off to Whitefish where he’ll try to figure how to get through Canada.
Schwenck is going to continue the research at Texas A&M in the fall where he’ll tweak the variables for the second phase of research.
He doesn’t have a computer with him right now, but he tries to update a website with his whereabouts.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help Schwenck with his trip.
Story by Katie Miller, MTN News