Steamboat Springs A group of 16 Bike-Aid members who are biking 3,600 miles from San Francisco to Washington D.C. stopped in Steamboat Monday and spent their rest day doing community service projects with Yampatika and the Community Use Bicycle program.
Their community on wheels, as they call it, has members from India, Nepal, Bolivia and the United States. Members range in age from 20 to 30. They are biking for the program JustAct, which was founded in 1983 and works toward promoting youth leadership in global issues. To participate, each rider had to raise $3,600 $1 for each mile of the trip. The money goes toward supporting community projects and education around the world.
"We're trying to raise awareness that we're all on this planet together," said Greg Hom, a student at the University of California in Los Angeles. "There's a sense that we, as young people, can change things."
The ride started in San Francisco on June 17 and the participants plan to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 20. The group is part of a five-route, cross-country biking tour with starting points in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Mexico and Montreal. All routes end in Washington, D.C., where there will be a grand finale for the program.
"It's good to be with different people and to live as a family," said Rajesh Shrestha, a bicyclist who flew from his home in Nepal to be a part of the ride. "It's nice to share about the ideas of Nepal. I have found so many people who don't know about Nepal."
The San Francisco group that came through Steamboat has been averaging about 70 miles a day, but the members agreed that getting to their destination as fast as they can isn't their focus.
Besides taking their time to soak up the scenes of the countryside, the riders focus a lot of their attention on the individual communities that they ride through by talking to people about issues that concern them. In Utah, the group talked to people about the hot issue of urban sprawl and in other states they gave lectures on bike safety and watershed management.
"Our thing is the best way to go because we get to stop in the communities and talk to people about what's on their minds," Californian Thomas Bui said. "We try to promote social justice."
Rather than speaking to people in Steamboat, the group engaged in two community service projects, including picking up trash along the Yampa River with Yampatika staff member Mike Baumgartner and helping out with the C.U.B. program, which provides community bikes for anyone to use.
Brooke Appler, a bicyclist from Maryland, said she enjoys seeing America's communities and being able to see and talk to a variety of people. She has learned a lot along the way about living and interacting with people she didn't know met before the trip, along with learning about her own abilities.
"Riding across America, you're very self-sufficient," Appler said.