Honking horns, waving drivers, a jubilant tavern crowd and a banner proclaiming “Beer $1 and free pop for the bikers” greeted Dan Austin, his two brothers and friend as they ended their pedaling pilgrimage to a Utah Jazz mecca in Spokane.
The foursome rode mountain bikes 750 miles in a two-week trek from the Utah-Idaho border to Jack & Dan’s, the Spokane tavern owned by Jack Stockton, father of Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton - one of Gonzaga University’s most famous alumni.
Austin, 22, his brothers Micah, 14, and Jared, 18, all of Hyrum, and friend Clinton Ewell, 22, had embarked on the journey to prove they were true fans of the Utah Jazz.
They returned to Cache Valley late Monday.
Dan said Jack Stockton gave the four special Jack & Dan’s T-shirts commemorating their ride and also told them that John Stockton had wanted to be there, but had a charity softball game to attend.
“That meant a lot to us that he wanted to be there,” Dan said.
At Jack & Dan’s, they filled a chalice with Coke - they’re Mormons and don’t drink alcohol - ate all they could and just hung out and talked to people.
They also visited Jack Stockton’s home, where they went swimming with John Stockton’s nephews.
Dan said the trip “was quite an adventure.”
Which, of course, made for interesting footage for the video documentary he is making for his senior project as a film student at Brigham Young University.
Dan filmed the group’s encounters and mishaps, including a few bent rims and flat tires. He said people gave them food, and hotels - all but one - let them stay for free.
In Idaho, the cyclists were told to turn off their camera at Shorty’s, a restaurant owned by actor Bruce Willis. Dan told restaurant employees he was sure Bruce would let them have the camera there. One employee said, “Bruce would probably break the camera.”
The travelers complied, but gave one employee a token on the way out - a copy of Dan’s rap song, “I’m a Jazz Fan,” to give to Willis.
The woman replied, “Great, he loves jazz music.”
While the ride was an adventure, it also was strenuous. The group rode as many as 90 miles in one day, to make it on time to the tavern. And they also pulled 60 to 80 pounds of gear, with Dan pulling an extra 100 pounds in a trailer full of camera equipment.
Dan’s legs hadn’t stopped hurting for three days.
Still, he planned to climb a mountain to film the final shot of his documentary.
And, he said, the group would do it all again in a minute.
“We’re talking about what we’re going to do next year,” he said.
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