Portland or bust

CJ Warson · Wednesday, July 5, 2017
On Tuesday afternoon, June 27, about a mile east of town, a group of bicyclists could be seen from the highway taking a lunch break.

The 20 plus group of rides represented the non-profit “The Ulman 4K for Cancer Fund for Young Adults,” based out of Baltimore, Maryland.

In fact, the cyclists started their journey in Maryland on June 4 and plan to continue that journey through Iowa.

On Tuesday the group came from Moline, Illinois and traveled a hundred miles to Marengo, Iowa for the night.

After Marengo the group traveled another hundred miles to the State Capital of Des Moines and spent a couple days there.

“We’re just out here trying to spread awareness, raise money and try to make the world a brighter place,” said Kerrin Holmes, a director for the group.

The group started by dipping their tires in the Atlantic Ocean in Baltimore, they plan to make it to Portland, where they’ll dip their tires in the Pacific Ocean.

The group does not bike every day though. They get ten rest days, during five of those rest days they did different service events in Des Moines.

Anyone could sign up for journey, but it also had a price. Bicyclists had to raise a minimum of $4,500 to go and it all went back to non-profit.

As the group travels it doesn’t pay for much of anything. The food they eat is all donated. They asked for donations to them keep going in whatever town they’re in.

This is the sixteenth year the non-profit has done something like this. In fact, this isn’t the only group of riders for the cause right now.

“There’s twenty-three people on this team and nineteen people going to San Francisco and there’s twenty-five going to Seattle,” Holmes said.

The people doing this incredible journey throughout the United States are people from all over the country, not just from Baltimore.

They came together because cancer has affected their lives in some way. They have found a way to remind themselves of why they’re traveling.

“We did a dedication circle this morning to who we wanted to dedicate this ride to and kind of brings back to what the purpose of this ride is every day, every weekend and every month that we’re out on the road,” Holmes said.

The cyclists have vans that drive ahead of them to find proper water and lunch stops. They pull into people’s driveways and knock on doors to see if they can use their lawn to stop and rest for a while.

On this particular Tuesday in West Liberty they stopped and had lunch at the home of Joe and Priscilla Haessig along Highway 6.

While the cyclists are resting another job of the vans is to chalk their path so they knew where to go.

As one can imagine the bicyclists are together all the time, so when they’re out on the open road they talk to each other.

“There’s some pretty lonely shots there in Indiana and Illinois where we really didn’t see much but cornfields for hours on end. That’s when you kind of get to know each other and have really good meaningful conversations,” Holmes said.

“Ultimately, it’s about building relationships among the team and also with the communities we’re passing through,” she added.

When the group reaches it’s daily destinations it doesn’t pay for a hotel, because everything is donated to it. They get to sleep in a variety of places.

They have stayed in churches, YMCA and in Marengo, they got to stay in the public library for the night. It was just another way for riders to interact with people from different communities.

Going to different communities, they stay in groups for safety reasons.

“We have ride groups for safety precautions. We have groups that flow between four-to-five, just because it makes it easier for cars to pass safely,” Holmes said.

For other safety precautions, they try not to bike out in the worst of weather.

“You kind of make do and if the conditions become unsafe, obviously then what we do is shuttle,” Holmes said. “We have bike racks on our two vans. If it becomes unsafe for us then we try to find shelter and then depending on the severity of the storms, we would just shuttle and not even try to bike back out in it.”

They also shuttle to their next stop if the heat index gets anywhere to 110 degrees.

With just over half way left to get to Portland, the group has many more enjoyable miles to bond and meet new people for a good cause.
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