A generation of college-aged bicyclists have not only seen the historical and cultural thread of the United States from the seat of their two-wheel mode of transportation but they also feel satisfied in knowing that they are making a difference with those less fortunate than them.
Each year Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities by riding across America to Washington, D.C. as members of the Ability Experience’s Journey of Hope. Each day three teams — all traveling separate routes — cycle long distances and then visit with an organization in each town.
For the 27 riders and nine crew members riding on U.S. Highway 50 on Saturday, the short journey from Carson City to Fallon gave them an opportunity to rest and later attend a Friendship Visit dinner at Humboldt Shredders where they met the people who work at Humboldt Shredders and shared a potluck dinner. Humboldt Shredders provides job training for people of all abilities.
The Journey of Hope team consists of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity men from across the country. The two-month trip began more than one week ago from San Francisco, and the cyclists are currently traveling through central Nevada, averaging of 75 miles per day and will end their journey at the national capitol on Aug. 8.
According to spokesman Zac Corbo, who is accompanying the cyclists, every rider commits to raising a minimum of $5,500 on behalf of people with disabilities in hopes to enhance their quality of life.
For Corbo, though, seeing this part of the West is nothing new for the Sacramento State University student. Although the weather was hot and somewhat humid when the cyclists traveled through the area last week, he said riders are having the education of a lifetime.
“There are so many different cultures, people and climate zones,” he pointed out.
The cyclists and crew spent Friday night in Carson City before heading east to Fallon. The light day of pedaling was welcomed before Sunday’s 110-mile journey east to the old mining camp of Austin.
Corbo said the team who stayed in Fallon was new to the Journey of Hope project.
Before the trip, Corbo said riders, who own their bikes, must put in about 900 training miles before traveling down the highways.
During the day when cyclists are pedaling on the highway, six support vans that carry equipment and personal gear ensure the riders are aware of road hazards and also provide water and snacks at various breaks.
Jacob Hroska, another westerner who attended the University of Idaho, is another crew member driving a van. He became involved with the program after hearing of fellow fraternity members describing their experience,
Although he serves as a van driver, Kroska still has the option to ride a bike to give one of the team members a rest.
Corbo said more than 100 fraternity members are supporting people with disabilities and raising about $600,000 for the 2015 Journey of Hope. Many who opted to ride this summer, according to Corbo, either didn’t accept job offers or internships; however, he said the dedication and involvement with the Journey of Hope is a good addition on the resume.
University of Mississippi graduate Jeremy Roy said he became involved in April and began his fundraising and training. Seeing more of the West is completely new for him.
“The farthest west I’ve been is Las Vegas, but I’ve also been to Colorado and Texas,” said Roy, who has a degree in mechanical engineering. “The cultures are definitely different. I’m seeing how others adapt to weather, but the elevations are killing me.”
Since the trip began, Roy experienced the lofty mountain passes of the Sierra Mountains west of Lake Tahoe and the 6,000-foot summits of central Nevada.
Roy said he feels honored to be involved with the Journey of Hope. Since his fraternity chapter had its charter reinstated on campus, he is the first rider to participate in the coast-to-coast ride.
“This Journey of Hope is building a bridge for others to come behind me,” he said.