John Youker loves the outdoors and staying active. At 53 years old, he feels like he's in his prime and participates in various outdoor sports and recreational activities such as hiking, backpacking, distance running, cycling, and MTN biking. What drew him to cycling was the freedom of being on the road or trail without being confined inside a vehicle.
John's cycling journey started in high school with some short sprint triathlons, but he grew more interested in MTN biking as he enjoyed being in the woods. Nowadays, he enjoys all types of cycling and aims to bike between 150-200 miles per week during the "on-season," even while working full-time and raising a family.
“I run 50k races, and mountain bike on my local trails as well as in Pisgah Forest, NC. I ride century rides and gravel rides, and most recently, have entered the bicycle touring and bikepacking world. I am loving that!”
For John, cycling means freedom. It's the ability to be outside and see where the road or trail ahead leads. He enjoys exercise, the sense of accomplishment from biking somewhere that other people would do in a car, and the opportunity to experience life at a slower pace.
His wife and kids, along with his parents, are John's biggest supporters. His biggest motivation is just being able to get out there and continue moving. To be able to ride 30, 62, 100, or 125 miles and still feel good!
Last year, John fulfilled his goal of riding 380 miles on the GAP and C&O trails and did a bike-packing route in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area of Pisgah National Forest in NC, climbing the famous Old NC 105 gravel road. He also partially achieved his goal of raising $2600 for the GCC ride for childhood cancer research, raising $1000.
In 2023, John’s planning many one-day local group rides of 62 and 100 miles, as well as riding the Natchez Trace Parkway 400 miles from Nashville, TN to Jackson, MS as part of a charity bike ride supporting the Fuller Center For Housing. His goal is to fundraise $1200 for the ride.
When asked about his biggest inspiration, John talked about the young children he sees battling cancer at the children's hospital where he works as a respiratory therapist. He has participated in the Great Cycle Challenge and the Wounded Warrior Project to raise money for cancer research for children and to support accident victims or people who have lost their ability to perform as they used to.
For John, the biggest challenge is finding the time for cycling. Working full-time, raising children, and wanting to remain athletic and competitive takes time, dedication, planning, and perseverance. However, cycling has taught John to never give up and push for that extra mile, even when his legs are cramping. He thinks about the child with cancer or the wounded warrior and says to himself, "I CAN DO THIS," and makes it to the finish or hits the mileage goal he set for himself.
In his cycling journey, John counts on the support of OCG to get kitted out and ready to face new challenges. Wearing high-quality apparel that displays his style and personality, he’s ready to keep moving forward!