Columbus cyclist’s book documents coast-to-coast bike trip in 2012

Somehow it seems fitting that a guy known for all his pedaling might become known now for peddling — his book.

Cyclist Mark Yeaton, a local teacher, bus driver, and biking commuter, has completed at least four cycling fundraising excursions for local or national charities. And now he has chronicled his first coast-to-coast bike trip from 2012 in a day-by-day format in 38 chapters in a 210-page work titled “Elephant On the Menu: A Cycling Venture Across America.”

He’ll sign copies of the book from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Viewpoint Books in downtown Columbus. The title originated from wisdom from his daughter, who compared the gargantuan trip to eating an elephant one bite at a time.

He published the work a few years ago, but never distributed it, keeping boxes of copies in his garage.

His story details the then-50-year-old Yeaton’s 3,000-mile summer cycling journey beginning June 3 in Oceanside, Calif., and ending July 13 in Annapolis, Maryland. Wife Sherry and son Kendall supported him in a van along the route.

The trip’s aim: to raise money for wells and clean drinking water in Kenya through the International Disaster Emergency Services Christian ministry.

“I believe we are a little spoiled in America,” Yeaton said at the time. “We can’t even seem to want to drink our water from a tap anymore.

“It has to be bottled. So, as God has blessed us, let’s share that blessedness with others.”

Each well in Liboi, Kenya, the area he helped bordering Somalia, cost about $30,000 to install more than a decade ago. And that’s the amount he eventually raised.

“It took me a couple years even to begin to process this all,” he said.

Part of that processing involved remembering all the strangers who needed a listening ear along the way at various stops.

“I was amazed at the number of people who poured out their heart (with prayer requests),” Yeaton said, adding that they prayed right in the moment for them wherever they were at the time. “That happened a lot.”

Because he considered the book idea before the trip, Yeaton kept a daily journal of the trio’s experiences. Surprisingly, there was only one rainy day and one chasing dog. He and Kendall, both guitarists and singers, brought instruments along in the supply van and performed at a few coffee houses encountered throughout. In light of their mission to fundraise for the Kenyan water well, they even sang an original tune, “Give Me the Water.”

Those who already have read Yeaton’s words know full well that he can write with the same fluidity that he rides. To wit, here is his glorious, opening page memory of first being on a two-wheeler at age 5 under his brothers’ encouragement: “They gave me a big push and yelled, ‘Keep pedaling!’

“I did what they said and, much to my surprise, I kept the bike upright and rolling. Right at that moment, I swear the heavens parted and angels descended singing Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’ chorus at the top of their angelic lungs.”

He superbly — and once again humorously — highlights one other life-changing moment that further helped make him more determined for such a trip: being struck by an SUV while cycling one Sunday afternoon with son-in-law Danny Fisher.

“My first thought was to thank Jesus that I’m still alive. Next, I remember thinking I’m probably not going to finish this ride … .”

In a later interview with The Republic, he would quip about his altered perspective and increased gratitude by saying, “Everyone should be hit by a car — and be OK, and live to tell about it.”

Ideally, Yeaton would like readers to perhaps consider how they are extending God’s love to others. As much as anything, Yeaton likes this quote from friend Cody Mosier at Ogilville Christian Church: “We are not called to be consumers of Christ. We are to be distributors of Christ.”

Toward that end, Yeaton offers a thought.

“I would want to encourage us to ask, ‘How are we sharing Christ with others in our everyday life?’”

Book signing

Columbus teacher and cyclist Mark Yeaton will sign copies of his book, “Elephant On the Menu: A Cycling Venture Across America” from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Viewpoint Books, 548 Washington St. in Columbus.