“We’ve known each other since we were in diapers” is a commonly-used expression. And for John Saylor and Jason McKinley, the expression is true.
“I always say God didn’t give me a brother, but he gave me Jason McKinley,” Saylor said.
Growing up in Danville amidst members of Gethsemane Baptist Church, the two boys, along with Scott Stafford and Allen Martin, wrestled each other in playpens and eventually became the best of friends.
As the years went by, the grouping shifted, with Stafford and McKinley attending Boyle County High School and Saylor and Martin attending Danville High School. And as they grew into men, the group has shifted again, with Martin and Stafford taking an interest in filmmaking and McKinley and Saylor sharing a love for the outdoors. It is this interest in the outdoors that has led them to ride in the 20th annual Tour des Trees bike ride beginning Aug. 5.
The annual bike ride helps raise money for tree research; and arborists, their families and anyone else who wishes to join can participate. Each rider is raising money for his or her journey, with Saylor attempting to raise $3,500 for the full trip and McKinley raising $1,800 for a partial trip. Saylor currently has $1,480, and McKinley has $25.
“It seems like there is a really strong bond there,” Saylor said of the riders. “We’re like tree family; some you only see once a year.”
This year’s ride will begin in Portland, Ore. The group will ride northwest and then come back down the coastline to Portland.
Saylor’s love of trees began when he was a boy taking walks in the woods behind his grandmother’s house.
“It’s like she knew every tree that was out there and every plant,” he said. “And so I think that was kind of instilled in me at an early age. Granny Saylor is ... where that seed got planted.”
In high school, he completed biology courses that involved learning about trees, and he finally decided that trees should be his career, becoming an arborist technician for the city of Lexington. And to help train for August, he rides his bike from Wilmore to downtown Lexington, which is roughly 40 miles there and back. But with extra training and less time to fundraise, Saylor’s a bit more behind than usual but hopes to catch up quickly because the race is worth it.
“It’s great to see each day and each tour by bike,” he said. “You can see a lot more ... when you’re on a bike you see it, you feel it, you smell it ... it’s pretty neat.”
SO YOU KNOW
If you wish to donate to either Saylor or McKinley, visit http://www.active.com/donate/STIHLTourdesTrees12/1236jmckinl or http://www.active.com/donate/STIHLTourdesTrees12/1236JSaylor.