Interview with Cyclist Jon Olson

Roughly 6 years ago Jon Olson learned the symptoms he’d been struggling with for years had a name- muscular dystrophy. The disease impacted his grip strength, stole his ability to run, and made swallowing an issue. At age 60, the retired journalist realized a window was closing on a dream he had had since high school- to pedal his bike from coast to coast.

So in May Olson traveled for Milwaukee to begin his journey from the Oregon coast on a ride to fulfill that dream and raise awareness and funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association to make life better for other people with MD.

To ride one’s bicycle across the country is no small goal. But to do it when you have muscular dystrophy is Herculean and inspiring. Along the way, Olson has met and inspired many people. Although the challenges of his ride have been significant, it’s the growing number of people he meets along the way who are contributing to his success.

Olson has been keeping a blog documenting his journey as he goes.

While Jon travels he utilizes a service many bicyclists use to find community members willing to host or support cyclists.

We know from the state’s January economic report that 11.7 million tourists came to Montana in 2015 and that they added $3.6 billion to our economy.

More than 2.8 million people went to our state parks and more than 6 million went to Glacier and Yellowstone.

  • In 2012 we know that more than 565,000 cyclists came to Montana and they spent $377 million in the state.
  • Here are some highlights:
  • The average age of a cycling tourist in Montana is 53-years-old.
  • The average household income of cycling tourists to Montana is $75,000 to $150,000.
  • Most of Montana’s cycling tourists come from Washington, California, Oregon, Montana and Colorado. People from 18 different countries were identified as well.a
  • 92% of cycling tourists in Montana plan multi-day trips.
  • The average spending of these cycling tourists is $75 a day with an average stay of 8 days. Adventure Cycling says they could be spending as much as $103 a day.
  • 40% of these cycling tourists visited historical sites, 38% went to Lewis & Clark sites, 37% watched wildlife, 33% went on hikes, and 29% visited local breweries.
  • Most Montana cycling tourists site their “most memorable aspects of Montana cycling” as the scenic vistas, the hospitality of locals, and the challenging aspects of the mountain passes/descents.
  • Most cycling tourists want to travel 60 miles a day on their bikes.