Bikers wheel across country for summer fun

By Ms. Catrina Francis (IMCOM)August 7, 2009

4,000 mile trek raises charity funds
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

When students return to school after summer break, the question most often asked of them is, "What did you do during your summer vacation'"

The reply of 17-year-old John and James Mackovjak will be, "We biked 3,935 miles."

Friday John, James, and their father David, a retired Navy submarine officer, visited Fort Knox's School Age Services as part of their trek across the U.S.

The twins and their dad decided to bike across the country to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Wounded Warrior Project. So far the Mackovjaks have collected $8,500, and their goal is $10,000. David is confident that the group will make their goal.

"We wanted to pick two organizations ... Dad was in the Navy and we wanted to give back with the war going on," said James.

The trio began the trip near Seattle June 28 and will end it Sunday in Virginia Beach, Va., after cycling through 10 states in 43 days, which includes 38 days of riding and five days of rest.

"My dad always wanted to bike across the U.S., so we decided to bike to Virginia," said John.

He added that they ride about 100 miles per day-600 miles per week.

According to the Mackovjak's Web site,, during the cross country ride father and sons will stop at local Boys & Girls clubs along the way to talk to youths about the importance of staying healthy and being involved in physical activities.

Although David has been biking since he was in high school, it has taken him 30 years to fulfill his life-long dream of cycling across America.

"I have been biking since I was knee high to a grasshopper," said David. "I raced for five years for the Navy's triathlon team and was encouraged to continue my cycling, running, and swimming.

"My goal once I retired was to spend quality father time (with the boys). This summer is our last hurrah."

Over the years his sons have participated in various competitive cycling events.

When John was 12 he rode in his first century ride on a mountain bike as part of the Seattle to Portland, Ore. bike ride.

James has also participated in several Seattle to Portland bike rides. During the summer of 2007 the twins completed a five-day bike trip to the San Juan Islands, Wash. with their Boy Scout troop.

"We have been in scouts since we were five," James said. "We started as Tigers and ended as Eagles (Scout). We became Eagle Scouts in 2007. It has been a great experience."

Even though the Mackovjak's main purpose for the bike ride was to raise money, David said that the trip has allowed the boys to visit colleges along the way. One of the schools was the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

David added that he believes the trip will prepare the twins for the next phase in their lives.

"If you put together a plan and execute that plan, (then) you will be successful," he explained.

Cultural awareness was also important because riding across the country provided the twins with unique opportunities to see and encounter other cultures and ethnicities.

When the cyclists eat in restaurants they wear T-shirts with logos of the two organizations they're representing, and that normally begins conversations about wounded warriors.

"We meet people who have lost loved ones in the war," said David. "The Wounded Warrior Project is about protecting our freedom and the Boys & Girls Club are the future of America."

John said he likes the idea of spreading awareness, and finds it cool to talk to his friends about cycling across the U.S.

"It's cool to say what you did," John said. "We get to spend time with my dad. Not a lot of kids get to say they hung out with their dad."

James said the best part of the trek has been visiting different places and riding through small towns.

"I am looking forward to all of the places we are going," James said. "You get to see places you see on the news. (Cycling) has shown me how nice people are, and it changes your perspective."