Bicyclists strive to create awareness for those with disabilities

Published 7:51 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

The 30 riders on the south route of the annual Journey of Hope have 59 days to travel from Long Beach, Calif., to Washington, D.C., using nothing more than their own two legs to power their bicycles across America.

These able bodies men of Pi Kappa Phi have chosen to take time out of their summer to ride nearly 4,000 miles across the country to raise awareness for people with disabilities.

“The whole point is to create awareness for people with disabilities through experiences and the relationships we make and then to go share that with people,” Fernando Felix, who is a student at Oregon State University and taking part in the Journey of Hope this summer, said. “We want to bring awareness to the cause because the community is often overlooked. When we go out and say the amount of days that we have cycled across the country it attracts people.”

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The south route is one of three routes of 30 riders each who are riding across the country this summer. Friday they made the 80-mile trip from Monroe, La., to Vicksburg, where they spent the night before riding 50 miles to Brandon.

“It has been amazing. It has been hot,” Felix said. “Going through the south, it has been humid. Getting down here starting in Texas. The days have been long, but the brotherhood on the team is strong and it makes the days shorter. It makes the days easier.”

The ride has taken place annually since 1987. All the riders who participate are members of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. During their journey, the riders on the south route ride between 35 and 120 miles each day for an average of 70 miles per day.

“It has been amazing,” rider Skyler Roberts, who attends Wofford College, said. “Going through every state there is always something different. There is always something new. Getting to meet amazing people with different abilities just surprises me every day.”

Roberts said that when he was rushing a fraternity his freshman year of college it was learning about the Journey of Hope that convinced him to join Pi Kappa Phi in the first place.

“I went through rush and I met the Pi Kappa Phi brothers and they told me about the Journey of Hope,” Roberts said. “That really inspired me and that is why I rushed their fraternity and that is why I am here today.”

The riders each have to raise at least $5,500 for the parent foundation, The Ability Experience, which supports people with disabilities.

Felix said many of the riders on the south route were brand new to road biking when they decided to take part in the Journey of Hope.

To prepare for the grueling ride across he county each rider had to participate in an extensive training program that included fitness training and lessons on bike safety and maintenance.

“The Ability Experience has a great training program for us,” Felix said. “We do something called training peaks and every day we are scheduled to do some kind of training whether it is running or riding or being in the gym.”

The riders will arrive in Washington, D.C., Aug. 12 after covering more than 12,000 miles and visiting 32 states between the three routes.

Editors note: A previous of this story incorrectly identified the fraternity that participates in the Journey of Hope as Phi Kappa Psi. It is the men of Pi Kappa Phi who make the ride.