Biking for a Better World: fundraising for education abroad |

Biking for a Better World: fundraising for education abroad

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunDuncan Sisson, Sam Skrocke, Jake Spero and John Witherspoon prepare their booth for a fundraiser at the River Grill on Wednesday night in Tahoe City. The four locals are raising money to fund a bike ride from Alaska to Argentina where they are planning to build a school in Nicaragua.

It’s a lofty goal: a nine-month bike tour spanning more than 16,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina in an effort to raise money to build a school in Nicaragua.

It is an exhausting, expensive and possibly dangerous journey. But four local men think they have what it takes to Bike for a Better World.

In mid-May of next year, Olympic Valley residents Jake Spero, 26; John Witherspoon, 39; Duncan Sisson, 26; and Truckee resident Sam Skrocke, 30 will fly to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to embark on a journey to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina that will change not only their own lives, but the lives of countless others who will be impacted by their on-going charity.

“We are using the ride as a springboard to raise $20,000 to build a school in Maderas Negras, Nicaragua,” Sisson said.

The team will raise the funds for Building with Books, a non-profit organization that will use the donated funds and volunteer man-power to build the facility.

Spero, president and founder of Biking for a Better World, Inc. (BBW), a budding non-profit that seeks to raise money through cycling, founded his charity

organization about a year ago after participating in other charity bike tours.

In 2001 the avid cyclist helped raise $15,000 for disabled children when he rode from Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles. In 2003, through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Spero and Sisson raised another $5,000 for cancer research in a 24-day haul from Tahoe City to Austin, Texas.

“We wanted something that could be full time for us, so that our work wouldn’t just dissolve after the [event],” Sisson said.

Putting forth local efforts is also a goal for BBW, Spero said, and upon their return the team says it is likely they will take on charity efforts on the North Shore.

“The non-profit will have more focus on helping the community when we come back,” Skrocke said. “But for the ride and the international aspect we wanted to think bigger.”

The team members haven’t gotten too specific with their future local plans, Witherspoon said, but they are tending toward education programs for disadvantaged youth.

“Hopefully we will become well enough known that people will come to us with their goals in mind,” Sisson said. “Locally or anywhere in the world.”

Preparation for the ride will be a challenge in itself. All four riders are already in top shape and have participated in some big treks, but there is far more to this than staying in the saddle.

The cost for each rider to finish will equate to about $10,000 a piece, which they say will be paid for entirely out of pocket. The riders will also be traveling through all 14 countries unassisted at a rate of 80 to 100 miles a day.

“I’m a bit concerned about the criminal element; we can probably withstand having our stuff stolen once or twice, but more than that I we can’t afford it,” Witherspoon said. “I have been documenting the weather for the past six months. We shouldn’t see the extremes of weather in the south that we will see in Alaska, but I’m worried about the heat at this time of year coming into Mexico.”

Biking for a Better World

The four-man, non-profit team held its first fundraiser on Wednesday night at River Ranch in Tahoe City to raise money for their ride from Alaska to Argentina, and will continue to fundraise locally and beyond through the coming year. To learn more about their journey or to make a donation, visit

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