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Photos and story by: Ricky Jimenez Carrasco
David Foute embodies everything we admire about bikers. He loves his freedom and the open road. He wants to help his fellow Americans. He is striving to better himself. And, he is learning more about himself and the country he loves. The one thing he does not have is an actual motorcycle.
What he does have is a beat up Trek ten speed bike with a self-made trailer that serves as a bed and wagon. It’s stocked with a couple gallons of water and some food, some extra clothes and some tools. With the tools, he makes jewelry from what he finds on the road which he can sell to fund his trip. With the bike, he hopes to cross the country and deliver a message to take care of the country’s homeless veterans who gave so much for this country.
He began his journey 2 months ago in Galveston and plans to get to Oregon later this summer. Interestingly enough, he is also not a veteran. Foute has a GoFundMe account under Foute4Vets. When he arrives in Oregon, he says he simply will look for a VA home in the area and donate whatever he’s raised to the home. In typical biker fashion, he has no timetable on his arrival there. Even in just getting to El Paso, the 51-year-old says he’s already found success.
SCB: What struck you to do this now, at 51? Foute: I left 3 days before Mother’s Day. My mom was like, you’re not serious, are you? You’re too old to bike anywhere! But I’ve been seeing stories of all the homeless veterans living under bridges. That’s so sad and I just wanted to make a difference. I want to make people aware. I’ve always loved veterans. I want them to know that I care about them and I hope that I can help one of them just a little. This is for them, not me. In my life, I’ve failed as a father and a husband. This might be a good way to succeed at something.
SCB: When and where did the immensity of your project hit you? Foute: I was a few hundred miles outside of San Antonio and I got my first flat tire. I had no parts, no pump, no nothing. I had to push the bike 8 miles to get it to somewhere I could get it fixed. I then realized I was racing and I wasn’t seeing what was going on around me. I started to slow down and that way, I could speak to people. People have donated pumps, tires, and tubes just to keep me going.
SCB: It sounds like this trip is becoming more than you intended. Foute: It has become a spiritual journey. When I’m on the bike in the middle of nowhere, I think of the veterans, when they were surviving in a different country. I’ve come to rely on the faith that I’m going to get there to keep going. There’s been too many experiences for me not learn from this. Many times, I’ll be in the middle of nowhere and I think, “What am I doing?!”
One time, I pulled under a bridge for the shade and so I could sleep. From there, I saw a guy across the road changing a tire. I figured to go over there and help him. He had a blowout and got pieces of the tire wrapped around the hub and he couldn’t figure out how to undo the mess. When I rolled up, he said that he had a full toolbox, but what he needed was a pair of tin snips to cut off the pieces. I just happen to carry a pair of snips on my handlebar for when I want to work on my jewelry. We had him on his way in 20 minutes! He had been there for I don’t know how long! I felt like the calvary!
SCB: So are you “finding America”?
Foute: I’ll tell you this: I thought America was going to hell. But, I see every day that THIS is a good place. There are so many good people out there. I think that before, I think I was hanging with the wrong people. I’ve had so much help from just “people.” I’ve had people give me food, money, shelter. Before this, I didn’t know people would just do things like that.
After all this time, one thing that I’ve seen is that stereotyping is a bad thing. People see me on my bike and they think I’m homeless. I’m FAR from homeless. I know there are people who have probably said “oh, he’s a biker, or he’s homeless, or he looks like a criminal.”
SCB: When you call home to mom, what does she tell you?
Foute: When I first told her that I was going to do this, she was just a mom: “What are you going to do? Where are you going to sleep? What are you going to eat?”.
Now, every time I call she asks, “What are you DOING? Just tell me where you’re at and we’ll pick you up!” But I don’t know how to answer that because I don’t entirely know what exactly doing. I just know that I’m feeling and looking better.
SCB: What do you think success will look like for you? Do you see yourself settling down somewhere where your bike takes you?
Foute: I don’t know about settling down just yet. I think I’m getting my life back and I get to live it. I’m seeing the world. I’m realizing that I like people and I’m seeing that there are a lot of good people out there. And, it’s just because of that bike. At this point, I can’t stop. It’s not a race. And all the experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t trade them in for a motorcycle. I like where I’m at, because that’s America!
***Mr. Foute would like to thank the management of Barnett Harley Davidson for donating some clothes to him while in the city. He would further like to thank the people who have helped him along the way on his trek across the country and, of course, the veterans he hopes to help in the end.