He was a high school volleyball star, is a basketball nut and, at 19 years old, is already an accomplished sports journalist.
But Andover’s Joe Kuykendall admits that he never considered himself a dedicated cyclist.
“When I didn’t have a car, I would sometimes take my old cheap bike from Target to get lunch in the summer,” Kuykendall said with a laugh. “And sometimes in college, I will bike to go places. But no, I was never really a cyclist in any way.”
That’s possibly why his parents, Laura and Dave Kuykendall, were so stunned when their son informed them that he would be spending his 2013 summer on a cross-country biking trip.
“We were completely surprised,” his mother said. “A cross-country bicycle trip was not really something I imagined Joe would ever choose. But I think doing it for a good cause was the most appealing thing to him, and as an athlete, we felt he could figure out the physical part.”
That cause, in fact, has been the driving force for Kuykendall throughout his nearly 3,800-mile journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
This summer, the 2012 Andover High graduate set out with a group on a cross-country cycling trip from Virginia Beach, Va., to Canon Beach, Ore., for the charity Bike & Build, which aims to increase the affordable housing stock nationally.
“The harder it is, the more I think about why I am doing it,” said Kuykendall, who will be a sophomore at James Madison University in Virginia this fall. “It’s intimidating, fascinating and incredible all at the same time. It’s hard, but it is worth it. I tell myself, ‘Never underestimate the major impact a minor action can have.’”
Kuykendall is a member of a 29-person group, all strangers prior to the trip, cycling the Central America route — one of 10 organized by Bike & Build. They pedaled off on May 31 and are expected to finish on Aug. 10.