Kirk Gillock of North Bend on his 4,233 mile cycle tour across 13 states to spread the message of love, unity and balance. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Kirk Gillock of North Bend on his 4,233 mile cycle tour across 13 states to spread the message of love, unity and balance. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

North Bend man cycles 4,233 miles to encourage political unity, balance and love

Kirk Gillock cycled across 13 states in the shape of a heart to unite Americans in love and political balance.

Enduring extreme heat exhaustion, 30 mile-per-hour winds and a 10,000-foot mountain pass sound like the feats of a grand adventurer in a novel. But for North Bend resident, Kirk Gillock, it was what was needed to send a message.

Gillock recently concluded a 4,233-mile solo cycle tour through 13 U.S. states in the shape of a heart.

His inspiration for the self-funded tour, “Heart for America,” stemmed from seeing the hurt and political division in the U.S. upon his return from Thailand where he was living for almost 15 years leading a charity.

“When I came back from Thailand in [Oct. of 2017], I saw so much hate and division in our country and I wanted to do something about it,” Gillock said. “I wanted to send the message of love, unity and balance.”

Following the lead of many others who cycle for a cause, Gillock decided to do the same. However, instead of cycling a specific distance or cycling from one coast to the other, Gillock wanted to cycle in the shape of a heart.

“I knew that when people heard about what I was doing and could see my route on the map it would make them smile,” he said. “I thought it would be original and cute and also beautiful — people would feel emotion when they saw it.”

Gillock left for his nearly-three-month journey on Aug. 3 in Austin, Texas, and began cycling northwest along the heart shape route he created.

The route included every type of paved and unpaved terrain possible. He said he suffered extreme heat exhaustion as he cycled through New Mexico and just continued “day by day” to get by and stay hydrated.

Cycling the mountains in Colorado also proved challenging for Gillock as he said he “didn’t train as much as [he] should have.”

“Before going on this tour, people asked me, ‘Aren’t you going to train for this?’ and I was like, ‘No, I’ll be fine.’ Yeah, maybe I should’ve taken their advice and done some training beforehand,” he said.

His heart-shaped cycle tour took Gillock through west Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas, arriving back in Austin, Texas.

On a good day, he said, he would cycle 120 miles. However, on a bad day, he would cycle only 40 miles, averaging about 70 miles a day.

He had a few planned stops along the journey and stayed with friends and relatives, but he mostly slept in local motels, his tent, or anyone who would offer him a bed for the night.

For his tour, half of his bicycle was painted blue and the other red, representing the democrats and the republicans. For him, it symbolized a need for balance and unity between the two parties.

“It takes both sides, the left and right, to be a stronger country. And, just like riding a bicycle, we need balance to keep moving forward,” he said. “If we lean too far left or too far right, we will fall and we will fail.”

As he cycled through each state, Gillock said he met people at all points on the political spectrum and found that the country isn’t as divided as it seems.

“I met everyone on the political spectrum you could imagine and it really helped me connect with my fellow Americans,” he said. “I found that while it seems like each side is vilified by the other, it’s just not so true… We all want to work together and be happy, and no one really wants to fight.”

With the new people he met, he gave out American heart stickers. He said he handed out hundreds of stickers across the 13 states.

He returned from his 4,233-mile cycle tour on Oct. 26 and has been settling into life in North Bend.

The overall response to his campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, Gillock said.

“Everyone I met was so receptive and agreed that our country needs some balance and unity,” he said. “People have told me that I’ve inspired them to spread the message as well as get on their bikes.”

As a way to continue the Heart for America campaign, he said he continues to give the stickers to people he meets.

“Now I also give the stickers to all my Uber passengers, as a way to continue the heart campaign,” he said. “The heart really speaks for itself.”

Kirk Gillock launches his “Heart for America” campaign where he cycled across 13 states in the shape of a heart. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Kirk Gillock launches his “Heart for America” campaign where he cycled across 13 states in the shape of a heart. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Kirk Gillock’s “Heart for America” cycle campaign took him almost three months to complete. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Kirk Gillock’s “Heart for America” cycle campaign took him almost three months to complete. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Along his 4,233 mile journey, Gillock handed out hundreds of American hearts to everyone he met in order to spread his message of unity and balance between the two dominant political parties. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

Along his 4,233 mile journey, Gillock handed out hundreds of American hearts to everyone he met in order to spread his message of unity and balance between the two dominant political parties. Photo courtesy of Kirk Gillock.

More in News

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

City Council approves EMS contract for Echo Glen center

Annual revenue agreement is for $16,578.

Phase 3 design coming for downtown project

The third phase has a total pricetag of $937,000.

Si View Metro Parks make progress on aquatics facility plan

Si View Metro Parks is expecting the Aquatics Center Feasibility Study to be finished in August.

File photo
                                Richard Burhans with Sinacia Yovanovich at the Euro Lounge Cafe and crepe restaurant in downtown North Bend.
Valley artist honored for lifetime work

Richard Burhans is the man behind many of the Valley’s notable murals.

An aerial photo shows the locations of two earthquakes and five aftershocks in and near Monroe, which rattled the Puget Sound region early Friday. The first was the magnitude 4.6 quake at upper right, 13 miles under the intersection of U.S. 2 and Fryelands Boulevard SE at 2:51 a.m. The second, magnitude 3.5, occurred 18 miles under the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road at 2:53 a.m. The aftershocks followed during the ensuing two hours. This image depicts an area about 3 miles wide. (Herald staff and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network)
Early wake-up call: Twin quakes under Monroe rattle region

Thousands of people felt them. They were magnitude 4.6 and 3.5 and hit minutes apart.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

Most Read