Scotland-born Gerry McCusker lives in Mornington, Victoria, Australia, on Port Phillip Bay and vacations in such U.S. coastal sites as Los Angeles, Savannah and Charleston. The 51-year-old cyclist loves to be around water. He even balances his cycling with kayaking to work his upper body.
So, the thought of biking 3,600 miles across America with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure is as daunting to McCusker as much for its expanse of dry land as it is for its sheer coast-to-coast length from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Astoria, Oregon. Still, he’s up to the challenge and chatted this week with The Fuller Center for Housing about why he has chosen to become the first Aussie to sign up for the June 5-August 10 Adventure.
You call this a “win-win” thing for you? What are the wins?
For me, a challenge of this magnitude is a way of testing my fortitude, practicing spirituality, showing faith in myself and my higher power — so there is quite a degree of self-interest present. In fact, giving me that time and permission is also an act of self-love and appreciation (a few people wonder how I can take time off work for it). Yet, when the trip generates interest and funds which are distributed to The Fuller Center’s many worthy charitable works, there’s a benefit for a bigger group of people — my fellow Adventurers, the Center’s stakeholders and the communities touched by the event. That’s win-win-win!
How did you learn about the Bicycle Adventure?
It was simply the power of the Internet. Having cycled on one of Spain’s Camino de Santiago (La Ruta de la Plata section), I wondered what my next spiritual journey would be. Search engines led me to a glossary of American bike trips, and the one with a social give-back element, The Fuller Center, just stood out for me, and the idea was sown and commitment nurtured.
Have you been to America a lot? If so, will you be seeing new areas on this coast-to-coast journey?
I have seen a lot of the States, but this trip allows me to see regions untouched by these Scots/Aussie hands and feet. I live near the bay in Oz (slang for Australia) and am a tad concerned I will miss the water, but I hope I’ll reach it safely in the west and immerse myself just to cool off a bit.
There are a lot of adventures out there that you could undertake this summer. Why did you choose this one?
For me, I’ve always been drawn to America and always enjoyed my holidays there to L.A., Sonoma, St. Augustine and Savannah and Charleston, plus work-related trips to Connecticut, Boston, Nashville and Miami. There’s also something alluring about traversing a continental land mass that calls to the competitive streak in me, too. And to be doing this trip with a community where I expect all hearts are in the right place is very reassuring.
Is helping people have decent housing a great interest of yours, or is this more about cycling with being able to help people have housing just a nice byproduct of this cycling effort?
I personally value having a nice living environment and have worked hard to be able to enjoy peace and serenity in my own living environment. More than cars or “stuff”, I feel a safe home is something to be valued and treasured. So, while I’ve never been committed to poverty housing as a cause per se, I know how important it is in people’s quality of life, and I hope that my efforts and the generosity of my sponsoring friends and colleagues will bring peace and hope for those for whom secure and liveable housing is a critical issue. In my previous bike marathons, it was honestly all about me. With Fuller, I’m hoping to get a little bit out of just my own gains and more into a space where I enjoy helping others, too.