TEXARKANA — As taxing as the COVID-19 crisis may be to citizens living in Texarkana, other places like California have had it much worse, with cities like Los Angeles still locked down to a high degree.
Among those facilities still closed by local ordinances are gyms. And Seth G, a gym owner, found himself with time on his hands to contemplate current events.
"We are still conducting fitness boot camps out of doors," he said of his gym. "I also have my fitness consultation efforts in various media and with my clients, but I had a chance to take in what was going on in America, and it bothered me. But above all, it made me questions things. I watched the divisive political climate, the protests and riots that kicked off after the George Floyd incident. It made me question myself and what I could do, born out of a sense of helplessness in the face of everything going on and being locked down here in California."
Among his various fitness pursuits, Seth G claims cycling and so he put it all together.
"When I'm out cycling, I sometimes use it as a form of moving meditation," he said. "Some may think it makes you less aware of what is going on, but actually, focusing on being in the moment helps you be hyper-aware and from that, a better cyclist. And while doing that, some of my best ideas come to me."
With that came the idea to combine cycling and his desire to get out and meet America to understand his fellow citizens better.
"I thought what a better way to bring America together than get out there and talk to Americans as I bike throughout the country," he said. "And while biking and talking, I would be documenting it via video and photography to record the journey."
Seth G lit out from Los Angeles on Sept. 21, and first angled for Las Vegas, Nevada. He then cut through New Mexico and then entered Texas at El Paso. Then, he and his crew directed their course east, riding across the Lone Star State. Sunday brought him to Texarkana, the midpoint in his journey, where he and his crew would see a bit of the surroundings, talk to some more people.
"A huge part of this was seeing parts of the United States I have never seen before," he said. "And I've realized a few things so far. Number one, despite the perceived differences one may think we have, we all want some of the same basic things. We want jobs, financial security, safety and health for our loved ones."
Also, being an L.A. man, he knows mostly the big city. This journey has brought him into more contact with small town people than he has ever had before.
"When I ride in most people can pick out the fact I'm not from around there," he said. "From the tan, to the bike, to the semi-buffness, they correctly conclude I'm not from around there. This doesn't seem to matter to them, though. So far, folks from smaller towns seem friendly and open, more so than some who live in big city culture. They have a level of openness that big city aren't used to. When I tell them I'm from California, they aren't fazed by that. My use of the word 'totally' also kind of gives away my origins."
Seth G says he has spoken to a diverse range of Americans and is truly learning so much about the folks who live in the other parts of the nation he does not often see.
"And just as much as in the diversity of the people, the sheer range of complexity and variety in landscapes, both natural and man made," he said. "All these cities and towns, just taking it all in, mentally masticating on it all, if you will, it is a hearty, heavy meal of the mind."
Seth G's next stops will be Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois (Chicago, especially), and then Washington, D.C., via Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"We will see the sites as we can, but mostly it is a quick look, just to take some photos and b-roll," he said. "Mostly, again, we want to talk to as many people as we can in each place we arrive."
The end point is in D.C., where Seth G and his crew will ride via RV back or fly.
"I've got family to visit in Maryland, so I'll take time to do that," he said. "After meeting all these people, it will be good to take time out for family."
The Great American Bike ride is the working title of Seth G's documentary.
"Our dream is to have a limited theatrical run, play in a few art houses," he said. "We want to get that going next year, knock on wood. Also, we will be looking for online and streaming outlets."
Seth G has a website for the documentary, thegreatamericanbikeride.com or tgabr2020 on Instagram.