Biking for a Better World set for S.F. party
August 10, 2007
Biking for a Better World is chewing up the miles, steadily chipping away at the imposing total of 16,000 from Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego.
“We’re making incredible time,” Sam Skrocke, one of four members of Biking for a Better World, said Thursday from his Truckee home. “It’s just a strong team, and we’ve had very little problems.”
A non-profit organization, Biking for a Better World is trying to raise $18,000 to finance the construction of a school in Nicaragua. The team ” made up of Skrocke, Jake Spero, Duncan Sisson and John Witherspoon ” intends to use the trip to meet as many people as possible to spread the word about its cause.
Thus far, Skrocke said, Biking for a Better World has raised about $15,000, leaving just $3,000 to go.
In terms of distance, however, the team is just getting started, having covered less than a quarter of the 16,000 miles to the southernmost point of South America since their departure in mid-June.
Skrocke, who pedaled out on his own from Arcata, Calif., in order to reach San Francisco ahead of schedule, said he has covered 3,740 miles. He’s been in Truckee since Monday, rock climbing and “enjoying not being on my bike.”
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He figured his teammates were in the Bodega Bay area Thursday.
The team is set to arrive Friday at the Olema Ranch campground in Point Reyes, where anyone is invited to join the group for the evening or take part in a 40-mile ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the city Saturday morning. The crew plans to arrive at the Velo Rouge Cafe in San Francisco around 2 p.m. for food and drinks.
After Skrocke summited Mount McKinley ” the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet ” he met up with Spero and Sisson, both of whom live in Squaw Valley, Skrocke said, and Witherspoon, who now lives in Vermont.
“Mount McKinley was just straight up fun,” Skrocke said of his mountaineering accomplishment, which he shared with a friend from London. “We had a great time; we nailed it. Everything worked in our favor. It couldn’t have been a more enjoyable experience.”
Once assembled in Prudhoe Bay, the teammates set out for the opposite end of the globe.
Through much of Alaska and Canada the group encountered more bears than humans, Skrocke said, sometimes as many as eight sightings a day ” both grizzlies and black bears. They also came across Arctic foxes, a slew of moose, some Dall sheep and two wolves.
At one point they rode upon a wolf standing in the middle of the road. Despite their efforts to scare away the animal, the wolf stood its ground. Skrocke said that after about a 10-minute standoff, they saw a man camping just off the road. Turns out the wolf was his pet.
But none of the animals acted aggressively. The same could not be said about the insects, Skrocke said, adding of the large mosquitos: “You can hunt them with shotguns.”
In addition to the mosquitoes, black flies and gnats kept the Biking for a Better World members in their tents much of the time when not riding.
“I was really excited to finally get away from the bugs,” which pestered the group all the way into Washington before subsiding, Skrocke said.
Biking for a Better World is traveling roughly 82 miles a day while putting in about five hours of seat time, Skrocke said. The goal is to cover 500 miles a week.
So far so good.
Many of those miles were wet ones, however, as daily rainfall soaked the cyclists from the moment they crossed the Canadian border all the way into Seattle, Skrocke said. The weather cleared the day they arrived in Seattle and has been dry ever since.
While Skrocke said he has gained physical strength along the way, there’s no avoiding the inevitable posterior soreness.
“It hasn’t gone away,” he said of the pain associated with sitting for hours on the seat of a bike. “It’s tolerable. It’s just something you deal with every day.”
Plenty of days remain for the Biking for a Better World team, which now hopes to complete its mission in slightly more than eight months, as opposed to the original estimate of nine months.
Only 12,000-plus miles to go.
To learn more about Biking for a Better World or do donate to the team’s cause, visit http://www.bikingforabetterworld.org.
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