Story last updated at 8/1/2012 - 6:41 pm
You know what sounds fun? Bicycle touring. I've never tried it, but this summer I'm gonna give it a shot. My bike's a Raleigh Wyoming. It's a 1986 model, just like me. It says "touring geometry" right on the frame, so I think it'll be well suited for the cross-country trip I've got in mind.
I love to go slow, and for two solid months that's just what I'll do: pedal across the Northern U.S. at about 10 miles an hour. I left Juneau July 17, and beginning July 25 from LaConner, Wash., I'll cover about 50-70 miles a day until I cross the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
I'll be biking with a purpose: to raise money for the Range of Motion Project (ROMP). Based out of Chicago, ROMP collects used, donated prostheses from the United States and fits them to amputees in developing countries. My goal is to raise one dollar for each mile I ride, totaling $3,400 for the whole trip. You can make a tax deductible donation at www.grouprev.com/ridingforromp .
ROMP is currently working in Ecuador and Haiti, in addition to their clinic in Guatemala that operates year-round. Unlike many NGOs, they're able to provide such consistent service because the clinic is run completely by Guatemalans. The only role of Americans is to bring in the donated prostheses; local doctors and staff take over from there, fitting the prosthetic to a person who has likely managed without one their entire life.
Needless to say, traveling is fun. I love seeing the sights, meeting new people, eating and drinking, and learning new styles of merry-making. Travel inevitably opens one's eyes to the plight of others. In this way it breeds compassion, a healthy thing for any person. I've been fortunate to travel a lot in my short life, but this fundraising is completely new territory for me. Neither my donors nor myself are ever likely to meet the people ROMP is helping, but our contribution will change their lives forever. For every $300 I raise, the people at ROMP can help another person in need. All of the money I raise will go directly to the Range of Motion Project. My good friend Sarah Sjostedt, a nurse at Barlett Regional Hospital, wants to add a little extra incentive for people to donate. She's agreed to match the next $1,000 in donations, so each dollar given will count as two toward ROMP's mission abroad.
The world really is shrinking, and my involvement with ROMP is a direct consequence of our growing connectivity. My love of travel would not have blossomed without the inspiration of my adventurous sister BJ. In February of this year her travel bug brought her to Guatemala, where she found free places to stay through the website couchsurfing.org. One kind host was Greg Krupa, whose brother David founded ROMP back in 2005. So BJ introduced the two of us, and our partnership came to be. Now I have the pleasure of telling people across the U.S. all about the Range of Motion Project.
The service ROMP provides is so objectively necessary and good, many people are eager to get involved. Cycle Alaska gave a big boost to my campaign with new components for my bike and the patient, thorough work of head mechanic Michael Bly. Now I'll be able to enjoy the journey on a silky smooth velocipede. The adventure sounds so fun, I was able to convince Sarah Ginter to quit her seasonal job early and meet me in Missoula, where she'll join me all the way to NYC.
I'll keep a blog along the way at www.rompathon2012.blogspot.com. Please contact me if you have any questions about the ride, or would be interested in riding along anywhere along the route. Thanks for any support you can give, and happy pedaling.