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Biking for a better world

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunDuncan Sisson, Sam Skrocke, Jake Spero and John Witherspoon prepare their booth for a fundraiser at the River Grill last fall. The team will have one final fundraiser at Uncorked in Squaw Valley on Friday before embarking on a nine-month bike ride to raise money to help build a school in Nicaragua.
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Despite never having ridden as a team before, Jake Spero, John Witherspoon, Duncan Sisson and Sam Skrocke are one month away from embarking on a bicycle ride that will take them nearly the length of the planet.

The four riders, who make up Biking for a Better World, will depart from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on June 15. They will ride somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 miles to Ushuia, Argentina, on the southern tip of South America.

The trip, dubbed Alaska to Argentina, is more than just an athletic dream for the riders. It is also a major fundraising effort that gives credit to the group’s name.



Biking for a Better World is a non-profit set up by the four athletes based on their own previous charitable endeavors. Alaska to Argentina is the team’s first project.

The ride is intended to raise money to help underfunded areas along the Pan-American route they will be riding.



All their efforts are going into raising $18,000 to help build a school in Nicaragua.

Spero said the team has already raised nearly $15,000 for the school, and he hopes that the nine months it will take the team to ride will be one of the group’s most lucrative periods.

“We’re thinking the ride could be one of the biggest fundraising times,” Spero said.

The team is currently hosting events to help raise awareness of the cause and generate donations.

The final local event will be this Friday, May 4, at Squaw Valley’s newest wine bar, Uncorked, which will hold a wine tasting from 5-7 p.m. and donate 10 percent of the day’s sales to Biking for a Better World. Members of Two Out Rally will provide musical entertainment from 6-9 p.m.

Spero said that Witherspoon is currently in Vermont and has also been holding events there for the cause.

Biking for a Better World was also the 2007 recipient of the Goran Kropp Memorial Fund, which was established to support those who venture to challenge their inner core.

Despite the fund and the money already raised for the cause, the bicycle trip itself is primarily being funded by the riders themselves.

“As of now we’re self funded,” Spero said. “I’ve been saving money.”

The team will depart from Prudhoe Bay on June 15, riding 500 miles a week for nine months on Trek 520 touring bikes, Spero said. There will be no side trips or detours for sightseeing.

The group will be entirely unsupported, carrying everything they need in trailers and rear wheel panniers.

They will be resupplied via mail drops along the route.

Spero said the group plans to ride six days a week for probably around six hours a day.

They will carry not only food, shelter and weather gear, but all their own spare parts, tires, tubes and tools. There will be no support vehicle on the 16,000-mile tour.

The group has been training, but Spero said that all four riders are amazing athletes, and this is the way they live their lives.

“It’s really like a lifestyle,” Spero said. “We’ve all been living this trip.”

Spero said they’ve all been riding at least three to four days a week, and while the first few weeks of the trip will be rough, they will be ready.

With four top-notch athletes in the group, Spero said each member will motivate and push the others. None of the members are slouches, Spero said, and they will all keep each other going.

“We’re going to push each other,” Spero said. “It’s going to be an unspoken competition.”

Skrocke is taking the trip to another level, book-ending it with two neighboring continents’ highest peaks.

Skrocke will leave on Monday, May 7 for Alaska, where he will climb Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. After the summit he will meet up with the other three members of the team and embark on the nine-month bike trip.

After reaching Argentina, he will climb that continent’s highest peak, Aconcagua, unassisted. At 22,834 feet in elevation, Aconcagua is not only the highest peak in South America, but the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

16,000-18,000: Miles the team will ride

9: Months the trip will take

500: Miles per week

2,000: Miles per month

50-60: Pounds each rider will carry

14: Number of countries the team will travel through

15: Average miles per hour

6: Average hours riding per day

6: Days to ride each week

Friday, May 4, Squaw Valley’s newest wine bar, Uncorked, will host a fundraising event for Biking for a Better World. There will be a wine tasting from 5-7 p.m. and music from 6 p.m. on from Two Out Rally. Ten percent of Uncorked’s sales from the day will be donated to Biking for a Better World.


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