The article below originally appeared in the
San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Most people don’t start cycling with the goal of riding across the country.
Eighteen-year-old Megan Ryan kind of did. She was given the bike as a birthday gift a couple years ago. She rode it often, but mostly back and forth to work — about a mile away. Nothing too intense, but Ryan enjoyed it. The University of San Francisco student who is studying environmental science and education also enjoys traveling. Given her area of study, she worried about the resources spent when one travels long distances. But she hadn’t considered taking a bike for a long ride until meeting a guy in Portland who had traveled on two wheels from Indiana to Oregon.
After searching the web, the 2011 Aragon High School and San Mateo Middle College graduate came across Bike & Build — a nonprofit that organizes cross-country cycling trips to benefit affordable housing in the United States.
“I’m rushing into going from a total novice to a cross country trip,” she said.
This summer she’ll travel with the organization from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Cannon Beach, Ore. On the 3,800-mile trip, Ryan will do a handful of 100-mile days with the group. The group stops along the way to raise awareness about affordable housing organizations and help build housing. Ryan has pledged to raise $4,500, which will help the organization and trip costs.
Ryan grew up in San Mateo as a curious youngster who liked to play softball and water polo. She enjoyed volunteering with special education students at Sunnybrae Elementary School. Ryan decided to leave the traditional high school setting in favor of San Mateo Middle College to take advantage of the opportunity to customize her high school experience. As a result, Ryan graduated high school with 40 units and is on track to graduate college in three.
After learning of the opportunity bike long distances, Ryan looked for groups. Bike & Build stood out to her as she had studied the struggles of affordable housing previously. Over eight years, the nonprofit contributed $3.4 million to housing projects, according to its website. She applied just days before the deadline and was accepted. Since then, training has been in full swing.
She’s riding at least two hours a day, taking cycling classes, doing rides with more experienced riders and simply trying to be extra active. She recognizes it will take a lot to build up to riding for five to eight hours a day. The learning curve is also steep, including falling in San Francisco and asking basic questions to other riders.
Buying equipment, which is often expensive, is also a challenge. Ryan’s relying on the advice of others to make the right choices. And, to help her become more comfortable with her bicycle, Ryan has started to volunteer at a bike repair shop on campus.
Although her friends and family were initially surprised by the idea, they have been quite supportive. Ryan’s keeping a good attitude about it.
“I’m so excited and any help would be great,” she said.
To follow Ryan as she prepares and on her trip visit her blog http://whyismeganpedaling.wordpress.com. To donate to her effort visit bikeandbuild.org, locate the donate box and select Ryan’s name from the drop down menu before choosing the amount you would like to donate.