Curtis Davis may turn out to be one of the most unique recipients of assistance from the Jusst Sooup Ministry's soup kitchen along Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach.
He used the soup kitchen as an oasis on the first leg of a five-month, 13,000-mile bicycle ride around the perimeter of the United States.
Davis struggled to ride in the cold and against the wind on March 23. Starting from Berlin, Md., he ended up in the early-morning hours of March 24 at the soup kitchen, coordinated by the Rev. Dale and Ken Dunning, who immediately took them in.
He ate breakfast and lunch before taking off to meet the afternoon ferry. “It's a blessing this happened,” Davis said. “God looks out for us. It was perfect timing.”
The Dunnings were at the soup kitchen early, around 3:45 a.m., and Davis said he saw a light on. Something told him to stop, he said.
It also gave him a chance to sleep out of the cold on a cot in the basement.
Davis set out to make the ride solo starting in Virginia Beach, Va., until he ran into Kurt Flimmin. “I asked him if he wanted to ride around the border of the U.S., and he said he did,” Davis said. However, by the time they reached New York City, Flimmin went his own way. According to a recent Facebook post, Davis is back to riding solo again. “That's fine because all I need is a prayer,” he wrote.
Davis is taking time off his job working for a road contractor to complete the ride.
He is riding old-school style relying more on maps than high-tech GPS systems. Davis said he spent about two months mapping out the route to take advantage of as many bicycle-friendly roads as possible. Wrapped up in plastic in his gear is a large atlas with maps showing the highlighted route. In addition, he has a hand-written book containing every town, mileage and road number along the route.
He is riding to benefit the Eastern Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville, with any funds he raises spread out to other children's hospitals. He's been riding for the past 12 years and cycling to help worthy causes the past four years.
“I like being around kids,” Davis said. “To help save a child's life is a miracle.”
Pat Scott, development officer for the hospital, said Davis calls her about once a week to detail his progress. "We really appreciate what he is doing," she said.
Prepared for life on the road
Davis has everything he needs for life on the road including a small fishing rod and some tackle attached to his Cannondale. “But the most important thing on the bike is this hand-painted cross,” he said pointing to his handlebars.
He has a video camera attached to his handlebars to capture images and video of the trek.
Davis hopes to average 75 to 100 miles per day. Doing the math, he will have to average about 87 miles per day to complete his trek in five months when he has to get back to work.
Davis left the Cape Region via the Cape May-Lewes Ferry March 24 and headed north. He will eventually cycle to Maine before heading west to the Pacific coast in Washington, south to California, then east across the southern border of the Southwest and south to Key West, Fla., before heading north again, back to Virginia Beach. “I've got a bet with my brother that we can make it in less than five months,” Davis said. “This ride will be completed. I'm too stubborn for it not to be.”
Even before he finishes this long trek, Davis is already planning more benefit rides in Hawaii and across Canada. “And I will do this ride again,” he said.
Donations can be mailed to: East Tennessee Children's Hospital, 2018 Clinch Ave., Knoxville, TN 37916, att. Pat Scott.