Who is Greg Townsend? | As featured in the movie Hard Miles (2024)

Hard Miles is a new film starring Matthew Modine as Greg Townsend, an upbeat social worker who assembles a cycling team of teenage convicts and takes them on a transformative 762-mile bike ride from Colorado to the Grand Canyon.

Townsend’s work with these troubled young men is inspirational, bringing to mind such folk as Arkansas sheriff Eric Higgins who have worked hard to transform the lives of those who have been tainted by their criminal pasts. 

What is Hard Miles about?

The movie follows Greg Townsend as he works at Colorado’s Ridge View Academy for troubled young men, which is in danger of being shut down.

The facility’s director recognises the need for the Academy to receive some good publicity, so Greg suggests an arduous bike ride as a means of rehabilitating these urban delinquents. 

Does Greg succeed? To learn the answer to that question, it’s worth watching Hard Miles for yourself. At the time of writing, the movie is showing in theatres, so book your tickets now to ensure your front-row seats to see this inspiring true story.

Who is Greg Townsend?

Greg Townsend is an avid cyclist who started racing bikes as a teenager. Before he took on his role at Ridge View Academy, he also took up skiing; another sport that he introduced to the young men at the facility.

Greg is now a social worker at the facility, working with young offenders whose offences range from substance-abuse violations to gang-related crimes. Most of these men have experienced difficult childhoods and have very few prospects. But thanks to Greg, who has dedicated himself to their progression in cycling, there’s a chance their futures might be radically different to their troubled pasts.

It’s clear Greg has a passion for what he does, borne from his own troubled experiences as a youngster. He said in an interview:

““Everybody has a story, every one of our kids is different. I get to make an impact everyday. I was a troubled kid when I was younger, and my brother died in the system a couple years back — he never made changes, and I made changes when I was younger.

I wouldn’t call it an affinity, but I have an understanding, so I can connect and have a relationship with someone that is struggling. I can’t say better than some, but that would be something that my wife would say.” (source)

His work has had an impact, transforming the lives of many kids who have gone on to become successful adults. It’s this impact that has kept him with the academy for over 36 years. Speaking of his work, he said:

“You have to love the kids, love what you do everyday. For me, some of my best friends were kids that I coached. They have five kids and a family and they’re doing well. They’re not dead, they’re not on the streets, they’re doing well.

One of our lawyers was a kid for us… You never know when you have an impact. When you’re good, it’s a chess game sometimes, and I’ve learned how to play a good game of chess, where I’m not always the one who is going to help the kid. But if you know who your chess pieces are and you can set up success for the kid and put all the people in the right place, then that can sometimes come to success.” (source)

To date, Greg continues to work with young people and uses his love of cycling to inspire them.

Are you inspired by the work of Greg Townsend? Let us know in the comments below.


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