A 1978 bike tour made a Summit County diehard out of John Longhill
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”
As the executive director for the Swan Center Outreach, a large animal rescue, John Longhill has a lot of charges to look after, from horses to llamas to goats and more. The nonprofit organization operates out of a 300-acre ranch north of Silverthorne. Longhill started the nonprofit in 2006 with his wife, Rose. The couple arrived in the state in 2002 from Georgia, where they ran the precursor to Swan Center Outreach, called the Swan Center for Intuitive Living, The Swan Center Outreach adopts abused and neglected animals for life, and trains them to work with children with special needs. Though he works closely with horses, Longhill also has a close relationship with bicycles.
My first visit to Summit County was on a bicycle in 1978. I was going to the University of Florida in Gainesville and I had this dream of seeing the country by bicycle. I came over Loveland Pass down through Keystone, which was pretty small then. Keystone Lake had just one condo overlooking it. I came through Dillon and Silverthorne and was like, “God, I would love to live here.”
I’d put a fluorescent orange DOT vest on the bike, so people could see me, and put “Gainesville, Florida” on the back so people would know where I was from. I was in Yellowstone and this guy walks by and says, “Ha! Gainesville, Florida. Never make it!” and I said, “That’s where I’m from!” and he says, “What?!” That was the best part of the trip right there. I went 4,500 miles and hit the coast at Coos Bay, Oregon.
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