Florida cycler crosses through Swainsboro in route to Virginia


Situated on U.S. 1, Swainsboro is a popular crossing point for bicyclists. Yet another cycler found himself in the Crossroads of the Great South; Douglas Johnston became the third traveler to do so in less than a year. (Flynn Donoho from California and Andrew Kivett from Kansas both passed through this summer.) Johnston arrived in town on January 13, stayed the night, and departed for Day 9 on his trek northward.


A native of Naples, Florida, he stopped by The Chronicle around 1 p.m. and explained about his ride.


“I’m on a 28-day journey from the Naples pier to Virginia Beach, Virginia raising awareness for bike safety,” he said.


When asked what he thought about Swainsboro, Johnston called it “cute,” complimenting its feel and hospitality.


“It’s a little southern Georgia town. I like it! I’ve traveled U.S. 1 the entire way and will continue to do so, and I haven’t seen many towns like Swainsboro yet. Everyone I’ve talked to has been really friendly so far, and I’ve already got my stay arrangements in place for tonight, thanks to some kind folks here.”


Those kind folks, as it turned out, were the ladies at PruittHealth Hospice. According to administrator Dale Webb, this “caring group of individuals” rallied together to provide Johnston a place to stay while in town.


While visiting The Chronicle, Johnston added that he wasn’t in need of anything, especially since he had somewhere to stay for the evening. However, he did ask for $2 donations to go toward the cause, which is dear to his heart. He lost his partner, John, to heart disease and is doing the ride in his honor as he was a bicycle enthusiast prior to his passing.


Unfortunately, following the remainder of Johnston’s journey won’t be possible. He isn’t on social media, and that’s a deliberate choice he and the other four tagging along behind him made consciously. They say they’re doing things the “old-school way,” preferring human interaction throughout the duration of the ride, including asking for donations (which help with flat tires, food, and stays along the way as necessary).


In closing, Johnston said this was his first time attempting a ride of this nature and while it has been worth it so far, he won’t do it again. He also asked The Chronicle to relay a short message to the community, asking members of the public to strike up a conversation with him if possible so he could talk about the point of the ride, emphasizing bike safety. The Chronicle posted that message on Facebook immediately and wished him safe travels on the way to Virginia.

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