Cyclists overcome longdistance obstacles
Reid Shaw and Chris Perkins ‘14 (above) and Colin McCarthy ‘17 (below) biked from their hometowns of Seattle and Spokane all the way to Whitman at the start of this academic year. Photos by Volpert from CYCLYING, page 1
was beautiful, which allowed them to have peaceful nights sleeping in random cornfields. Despite this, the adventure had its hardships. “The first day threatened to break our spirits … I told [Shaw] that I knew this sweet scenic route that would avoid more time on the freeway. It’s essentially a two-mile tunnel that’s pitch black on the inside and really cool, but the ride up is on a dirt [and] gravel forest road,” said Perkins. Perkins said he got five more flats over the course of the next few hours. By 7 p.m. the cyclists began to feel disheartened.
“You’d be surprised how easy it is not to think. It’s an experience. I have always done long rides like this.” Colin McCarthy ‘17 “We sat dejectedly on the side of the road and didn’t really talk to each other. [Shaw] just listened to Taylor Swift and I kicked rocks,” said Perkins. They did manage to muster their strength and press on to Walla Walla. Shaw, an accomplished Eagle Scout, successfully used a 20-dollar bill to prevent more flats by sticking it in the tire. But one can never count on the first hardship to be the last. Perkins recounts a potentially lifethreatening situation they faced. “We were severely dehydrated and struggled to power our bikes towards Touchet,” said Per-
kins. “We found someone’s house where some kids were playing with toys in the driveway. I realized the kid didn’t speak English but Reid asked in broken Spanish if we could get some water and he ran inside to get his parents. That was quite literally a life-saver.” Despite their struggles, these tough times made the best stories and memories. “Overall it was a great trip. [I] spent a lot of time with a great friend doing something we both enjoy. We were able to enjoy backroads less traveled with great weather,” said Shaw. Meanwhile this past August, first-year Colin McCarthy rode 180 miles to Whitman from his home in Spokane in two days in order to arrive at Whitman before his Scramble. This very impressive ride is not McCarthy’s first experience with long-distance cycling. The summer before his junior year of high school, McCarthy, his parents and his younger brother rode for 33 days from Spokane to New Hampshire, taking only two days to rest. The family woke up at 6 a.m., rode 100 miles in about 10 hours, and then did the same thing each day until reaching the East Coast. Two thirds of their nights were spent camping. The rest were spent in hotels. McCarthy said that biking made it easier to see the landscape around him. “In eastern Montana it’s just plains, so a lot of times there’s not a lot to look at. When you’re driving in a car you can kind of see the scenery go by. When you’re biking, you have like 15 minutes on the same exact stretch
of road, so you really get an idea for what’s there,” said McCarthy. The McCarthy family faced some navigational challenges but were fortunate enough to use technology to avoid ever getting really lost. “We didn’t get lost that much. It’s amazing what cell phones can do. Minot, N.D. had flooded that year so we actually had to do a 60mile detour. There were some bad windy days, some rainy days [and] some really hot days, but that’s to be expected,” said McCarthy. Rather than biking purely for a good workout, these Whitman students seem to see cycling as a refreshing and enjoyable experience. “You’d be surprised how easy it is not to think. It’s an experience. I have always done long rides like this. They’ve always been social events with friends and family,” said McCarthy. On his trip, Perkins was able to bond with Shaw over food and clandestine sleeping places. “We made it to Cle Elum right at dark and bought 20 dollars worth of food a piece at Safeway and feasted. We slept in someone’s backyard on sleeping pads without telling them,” said Perkins. McCarthy expressed a desire to do some of the longer rides in the area, and Perkins and Shaw talked about some potential future adventures, including cross-country rides and the Tour de France. Whatever they end up doing, hopefully it will be just as magical as Perkins described his ride this summer. “We rode like gangbusters by ourselves on the three-lane highway in the sunset. Call me crazy, but it was a little bit romantic.”
Cycling team extends helping hand to community by Serena Runyan Staff Reporter
hitman’s cycling team does more than just ride. The team performs multiple community service events each year, including helping with the local Gran Fondo bike race and teaching bike safety to local elementary school students. Every fall, the Providence St. Mary Foundation puts on the Gran Fondo, a bike race that raises money for the Cancer Special Needs Fund at the Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center. The funds go toward providing transportation, food, wigs or other needs indicated by cancer patients not covered by Medicaid, Medicare or other health insurance. There were over 300 participants in this year’s race on Sept. 21. During the event, members of the Whitman cycling team did everything from leading races
to helping people with flat tires. “For the most part, we’re out having fun and enjoying the countryside, making sure everyone’s safe, fed and hydrated,” said Luke Ogden, president of the team. The Gran Fondo also provides cycling team members with a chance to use their sport for a good cause. “It’s a great opportunity for the team to give back to the community surrounding us in a way that is connected with our sport,” said sophomore cycler Mackinzie Stanley. And, barring a couple mishaps, the event is mostly a chance to have a great time and get involved with the Walla Walla community. “Its a great thing that we do. I really love it,” said Ogden. “It gets us involved in the community, and gets a good word not only about Whitman but the cycling team.” Unsurprisingly, it seems
that all those involved appreciate the team’s presence. “I hear nothing but great things from both the community participants and the things our team’s riders who participate say,” said junior team member Arika Wieneke. After the Gran Fondo is over, the team focuses on the annual Bike Rodeo at Edison Elementary School. “It’s teaching kids basic skills on how to ride a bike, and also some safety skills,” said Ogden. Team members serve as role model for these beginning cyclists. “We’re making it so that safety is cool,” said Ogden. “We like to think of ourselves as ambassadors for both the school and cycling in general, because people do look up to us, whether it’s a kid or a college student.” For Stanley, it serves as a reminder of the team’s ties to the greater community.
“We all started out just like the young kids that come to the clinic, and someone had to teach us how to pedal and how to ride in the bike line and not swerve into cars. I think it’s a duty and privilege to pass on that knowledge,” she said. These interactions help build the two-way ties that benefit both Whitman and the Walla Walla community at large. “This is a great way for the Whitman team to give back for all of the support that the community gives to us,” said Wieneke. Participating in community service events also helps the members of the team bond with one another. “Doing events like the Bike Rodeo gives us the opportunity to get to know each other away from training and races,” said Wieneke. And the team certainly isn’t just about training and races. “It’s great to do some-
thing that is bike related but is not riding a bike,” said Ogden. “We’re not just about racing ... I think a lot of people see this team as being really aggressive and liking to go fast, but there is a bigger aspect of wanting to get people out on bikes.” Mainly the team wants to encourage safe bike riding. “We really want to help people get involved and get excited about riding a bike. You can go a lot of places, and it’s clean. I love seeing new people out on the road, but I want them to be safe, because accidents do happen,” said Ogden. According to Stanley, helping the Walla Walla community is just another way to connect with a larger network of cyclists everywhere. “As a biker, there is this feeling of connection to all bikers everywhere,” she said. “And participating in events like this helps confirm that feeling of community.”