MOUNT VERNON — A recent News article reported that several users of the Kokosing Gap Trail are concerned about the unusual dress of a cyclist often encountered on the bike path. When cycling, the man wears a hooded, long-sleeved sweatshirt, sunglasses and a gray mask, even in warm weather.
That man, “John,” said the story has caused him great anxiety, and he wants to tell his side of the story. The News is not releasing his name because he has not been charged with anything.
“I ride for 2 1/2 hours,” said John, “so the hat is for sweat, to keep my hair from blowing around, and warmth. The mouth protection is for bugs and dust, and to keep my throat from getting so dried out and hoarse. The glasses are for bugs and to keep my eyes from getting dried out.”
The jacket, he said, is for warmth because he sweats a lot from riding over 20 miles at a time.
“It’s like coming out of a pool when it’s 95 degrees outside; you do get chilled. It’s the same principle,” he said. “I have done nothing illegal, I don’t harass anyone and I am no threat to anyone,” he said. “Having said that, I’ve been harassed, stared at, yelled at, threatened by cars...and verbally threatened many times.”
John said he spoke with Deputy Dan Selby, a member of the Knox County Sheriff’s mountain bike patrol, and Lt. David Shaffer of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He showed them the clothing he wears, as well as a bright green vest.
“I’m not going to stop wearing those items,” he said, “but I will begin wearing the vest on top.”
Saying he has always been athletic, the 46-year-old denies approaching anyone in a threatening manner or making gestures. A graduate of Mount Vernon High School, he said he has an engineering degree from ITT.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber confirmed deputies visited John at home to make him aware of the citizens’ concerns, and said the deputies saw the clothing and vest.
John said the story has caused him great stress.
“As I told Lt. Shaffer and [Deputy] Selby, I rode in Columbus for 17 years, and never had one problem or complaint,” he said.