Father and Young Son Cycle Across America

It’s hardly revelatory that a 6-year-old boy might ask for a bike for his birthday.

What’s a little more rare is when they they ask to use it to ride across the the country.

That is unless you’re Shepherd Colver, now nine.

In 2019, after “at least 1,000 hours of training”, Shepherd and his dad James set out to bike across America – from their home in Washington state to New York City – in a bid to spend time with each other.

This attempt, which involved riding between 40 and 80 miles a day, was thwarted when Shepherd became unwell. “I was feeling really, really sick having terrible headaches while riding,” Shepherd told CBS News.

“Dad took me to the hospital and a doctor poked my finger and said, ‘Sorry, Shepherd, you have Type 1 Diabetes.'” 

Shepherd adapted quickly to life as diabetic, and before long was telling his dad he wanted to finish the trek as soon as possible.

“I felt like Shepherd had really earned the right to finish because of all the hard work that he had already put forth in the [Rocky] mountains,” James, a small business owner, said. “So we figured out a way to manage his diabetes and got back on the road.”

When Shepherd proposed to me to do the tour together, what he was offering me was this gift of presence.”

The pandemic sidelined their efforts in 2020, but they continued training and in June 2021, set off again.

After 18 weeks and 3,300 miles of pedalling together, they made it to NYC – and the Statue of Liberty landmark Shepherd had dreamt of seeing for so long.

Shepherd, now reunited with his mum, said the highlight of the experience was “mostly just spending time with my dad.”

His old man’s feelings were reciprocated. “It was a wonderful bonding experience. I really had the time of my life.”

James adds that a major theme for the ride was inspired by an article he’d read about ‘the gift of presence’.

“So many parents work a lot more than they should to afford material presents for their kids. But the article talked about how most kids would prefer us to be physically present instead,” he says.

“So when Shepherd proposed to me to do the tour together, what he was offering me was this gift of presence.”


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