Profile Series: Mike and Nikkey Jewell - The Pursuit of Happiness
Mike, aged 47 and Nikkey, aged 50 are a couple that have embarked on a gruelling ride, coast to coast across the USA.
Like many, this couple were originally inspired to start cycling by the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France, they decided to purchase a couple of cheap bikes and some cheap cycling shorts and set off. The very first time they rode they struggled and Nikkey says “I felt sick”, along with the customary soreness of the crown jewels, they managed to complete 3 miles, but it was a start! From there on out every weekend was filled with short bike rides, gradually progressing to longer distances.
At this point in life Mike and Nikkey’s children had all grown up and living their own, independent lives. The house felt empty and they just felt like all they did was work to pay the bills - “There’s got to be more to life than this” they kept asking themselves. It soon came to their attention that opting for the cheaper bikes and clothing became more of a hindrance to their progress than assisting with it. So, they decided to get some proper cycling kit and although they still found it uncomfortable and still struggled, it egged them on that little bit more. To keep them motivated they began to enter charity rides, gradually building up distance with each one. They started with a short distance and had to stop often but, eventually they became brave enough to enter BHF London to Brighton. “That was a struggle the first time” Nikkey says, but that didn’t stop them and they did it every year since!
A few years passed and they managed to find cycling gear with Fat Lad At The Back that gave them comfort while they rode. “A great brand that lasts well and is comfortable for the longer distances. We are both still overweight and just don’t feel or look good in normal cycling kit. We love what they stand for and it’s a very supportive community.”
The key for them was building up their cycling, first by going out on a weekend, then by commuting to work every day. They made a New Year’s resolution to ditch the car for short journeys and even acquired a trailer for their bikes so they could do their food shop! The car practically became redundant. After this it became a way of life and their holidays began to center around cycling. Living in the South of England they started cycling to Portsmouth, to the ferry port where they would get to France, Spain or the Channel Islands. Usually touring roughly about 1000 miles in 3 weeks. After building up to this point, they had achieved so much since that first 3-mile ride but “we were both feeling we could do more” Nikkey expresses. At which point they decided they would embark on a coast to coast ride of the USA.
Driven by their apathy for living a life that left them constantly wanting more, they committed to the idea. It took 2 years to prepare as they had to see their youngest child through university, remortgage, leave their jobs and essentially leave their old lives behind. “we had to do something! There’s always something to make you doubt you can do it, but we had to try”. They made a pact; if one of them wasn’t happy and wanted to come home then they would come home together, they were in this together no matter what.
On the 1st May 2019 they stepped off the plane in Boston, America with the plan to ride to Chicago - the 1st thousand miles of the trip. The plan was then to ride Route 66 and follow it all the way across from East to West, for 3000 miles, all the way to LA. Their tent, basic equipment and FLAB clothing is all they had and all they needed on their bikes.
What an experience!
What's your favourite piece of advice you've ever received?
The best bit of advice we received throughout the journey was to enjoy the moment and don’t look behind you because you’re not going that way.
So many people helped us along the way and thanks to the brilliant FLAB community we even made a good friend in Australia who had been following our journey on the Facebook page and very kindly let us stay with her when we went to Australia. (Yep not content with coast to coast USA, we went to Australia and cycled another 1000 miles Sydney to Melbourne!)
We made a small blog along the way jewellsontour.com but we haven’t finished there! A small delay thanks to Covid-19, but we will get back on the bikes and continue with the adventure because there’s a life to live not just to survive. Yes, we’re old and yes, we’re overweight but that’s just excuses holding us back. If you want to do it, then at least try instead of wondering what if or I wish. The best bit of it all was the kindness and generosity of complete strangers. So many people gave us food, money, places to stay or just words of encouragement and support. We aren’t religious but we’re touched by people’s prayers for us and blessings and we were even given a bible by a lovely man that gave us shelter, tea and biscuits one stormy night.
Great memories and we would not change a thing.
Big thanks to Mike and Nikkey for sharing they’re story with us. What an adventure! I’m sure many will be inspired by the confidence you had in your dream. I know we are!