In June 2006, Pearson Constantino was struck by by an SUV while bicycling to work in Scarsdale, New York. The lifelong cyclist, who was in the midst of planning a cross-country bicycle trip with his brother, Pete, was thrown under a parked car, where he lay unconscious, suffering a shattered hip, a broken back and a severe concussion. The driver fled the scene, leaving Pearson to die if not for the help of a passerby.
Two years and two surgeries later, plagued by constant pain, Pearson is riding again and is pursuing his old dream of a cross-country bicycle tour. Pearson and Pete began their 3,500-mile journey in Newport, Oregon in August, and hopes to finish in Boston, Massachusetts on October 1st.
They are following US Route 20 across the country, and have recently passed through Nebraska and Iowa (staying north of Kansas, sadly) and are heading east, maintaining a blistering pace, often of 100+ miles per day.
The trip is also the subject of a documentary film, “The Long Bike Back,” which will be produced and directed by Pearson’s wife, Julia Wrona, who heads up a New York City-based production company called Ailujon Films. Here is the film’s trailer:
The two brothers are riding not only for themselves but to encourage others to discover the joys of bicycling and to educate motorists and bicyclists alike on how to share the road safely. Along the way, Pearson has spoken to schools, cycling organizations and communities about his experiences.
Pearson is still plagued by near-constant pain, but not while cycling. “It’s like the more active I am, the more I don’t recognize the pain until I stop,” Pearson said. “The off days are really bad — waking up in the morning from just being stiff all night is not good either. It does take me awhile to get warmed up, about a good 20 miles or so on my bike.”
“We want to do this — the ride and the film — to inspire other people not only to ride (bicycles), but to think about bike safety when they drive,” Pearson said.
According to Julia, “We want to spread the word about road safety. We’re hoping that (the film) will make drivers more aware.”
For more information about their ride and their mission, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit their web site, longbikeback.com. About $30,000 has been raised so far. You can also follow their progress on their blog.