When you lose your house, and your job, what do you do? For Bill Fox, it’s get the seven kids and the wife together and start bicycling — across the country.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 20 edition of the Kansan.When you lose your house, and your job, what do you do? For Bill Fox, it’s get the seven kids and the wife together and start bicycling — across the country.“As a father, I was noticing that it was rare when we were all sitting in one place,” Fox said. The Fox family passed through Newton this week, on their trek across the country on the Transamerica Bicycle Trail. They stopped at the home of David and Cookie Wiebe for a meal and a place to sleep before heading to Cassoday the next day. For the kids, it was a chance to take a dip at the city pool, read a bit at the library and relax after fighting a Kansas headwind during the day. “I’ve enjoyed meeting so many nice people,” 18-year-old Rebecca Fox said. “There are people out there who have really helped us out.”The family isn’t long on funds — purchasing a mini-van after the first 300 miles as a support vehicle. Plus there’s no income — and no nest egg from selling the house before leaving. The Fox family got caught in the mortgage crisis, and their Castroville, Calif., home was foreclosed on. “We have the sense that God is protecting us,” Bill Fox said. “We’re uncertain about the future, and we don’t know if we are going to make it. But it’s not Maine or bust.”Fox said losing the house was, in one way, a blessing. With no house payment, and not retiring to the classroom this fall as a teacher, left him with freedom. Freedom to ride.“We have the time and are not tied to anything,” Bill Fox said. His youngest is 5, while the oldest of the seven kids is 18. All are making the trip — sometimes riding in the van with mom, but for the most part riding their bikes. “We’re a giant parade,” Bill Fox said, “and we’ve made it this far. The desolate areas of Nevada and Utah, we’ve made it through those and ridden every step of it.”Rebecca is putting her sophomore year of college on hold to be a part of the trek, often biking on a recumbent tandem with her father. “I didn’t think dad was serious about this,” Rebecca Fox said. “I really didn’t think we would actually do this.”But they are, and it is giving her a chance to be with the family and think about her future. The biology major really isn’t sure what she wants to do after college. “I think this is a good thing,” Rebecca said. “It’s family time. When you are on the bike, there’s not a lot to do but talk.”Bill said he thinks the family has a “couple of months” remaining on the road, whether they make their desired destination of Maine, or not. The family maintains an online blog for those who wish to track their progress at ninefoxfamily.blogspot.com.