I’m just a guy living a dream. But if you’d like a better idea of what I’m all about, I’ll try to help here.
21-1 years BC (before cycling)
I grew up outside Buffalo, NY in an average home with a loving family. I left Buffalo when I was 18 for the greener pastures of Rochester, NY and the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. I spent my days studying for my electrical engineering classes, and my nights bartending to pay the bills. As part of my studies I was required to complete 12 months of paid internships prior to graduation. Right around my 21st birthday, I headed for Boston, looking to complete the first 6 months. As I was searching for a place to live I slept on my friend Al’s couch. Al and his roommates didn’t own cars- they used bikes to get around town. So that I could get around town with them, they let me borrow an abandoned bike that was found in the basement of their apartment. I soon learned that biking was more fun, less stressful, healthier, and cheaper than owning a car in Boston. I began to only use the car to make my 40-mile daily commute.
1-3 years AD (after discovery)
My 6 months in Boston were then a series of days where I felt healthier and happier than the day before it, as I got used to moving around by my own power. One weekend shortly after I got to Boston, myself and a group of new friends rode bikes from Boston to Provincetown, a journey of 150 miles over 3 days. It was on this trip that I realized I really enjoyed traveling long distances by bike and carrying my belongings. When I left Boston I took a 2-week trip around Ireland, on a bike of course. It was November, the weather was crap, and I had the most exciting 2 weeks of my life meeting new people and seeing new places.
Arriving back at RIT, I made a decision to stop using my car unless absolutely necessary. I found this far more difficult than in Boston, partly because of my 20-mile round trip commute, but mostly because of Rochester winters and bike-unfriendly drivers. Shortly after I returned, I did some footwork and collected some fellow RIT students who liked to ride bikes. We called ourselves the RIT Cycling Club and quickly established ourselves as one of the most influential up-and-coming clubs on campus. We worked with the school to make the campus more bike-friendly, we held community fundraising events where we fixed students’ bikes while they were in class, we built a bike-powered blender and gave out free smoothies. Oh, and we raced. We traveled all over the northeastern US to race against other schools in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. You can still follow the club at their website.
The following summer I moved to San Jose, CA to complete the last 6 months of internships. I landed in town with a bike and a suitcase, and scoured Craigslist for a place to live. I found one downtown, about 5 miles south of the office I was working in. I soon realized (again) that I didn’t really like working at a desk in a cubicle all day. About a month after I arrived, I saw a guy with a pedicab waiting for a fare, something I hadn’t seen before in San Jose. I asked how I could get involved, and a week later I was a driver for Eco City Cycles. I soon became known as “Jesse The Biking Viking” after I began wearing a viking helmet to try and increase my fares. This engineer-by-day, biking-viking-by-night thing went on for a few months until I had to again return to RIT, although not before taking a 2-week bike trip down the west coast which taught me that there is no reason to plan trips as rigidly as I had been.
Back at RIT it was more fun with the RIT Cycling Club for a few months where we continued to become better known for our racing, our keep-it-fun attitude, our bike powered blender, and apparently our fiscal responsibility. Graduation from RIT with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering came after the completion of my graduate project in the fall. Rather than jump right into a career, I killed some time by tending bar at the newly opened W hotel in Boston before leaving on the long-term trip to which this site is devoted.