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Mennonite cyclists riding cross-country

Small group hopes to raise climate awareness

TEKOA – A Mennonite cycling group crossing the U.S. to race awareness for climate action rode out of the state on Saturday, June 5, after spending the last several days in Eastern Washington.

The group of 16 riders, two leaders and two support-vehicle drivers were at the Idaho state line midway through Day 6 of their ride.

"We're biking from Seattle to Washington, D.C., to promote (climate) awareness," cyclist Isaac Alderfer of Harrison, Va., said Saturday. "We expect to reach D.C. on July 28."

When complete, the cyclists expect to have ridden 3,658 miles.

Alderfer said most of the riders were from Mennonite universities, including Eastern Mennonite, Goshen and Canadian Mennonite.

"We're part of a joint, mostly college student group called the Center for Climate Solutions," he said.

Dubbed the "Climate Ride," the cyclists left Seattle on May 30, riding 81 miles uphill to the Tinkham Camp Group on the west slope of Snoqualmie Pass. The riders spent the next couple days traveling to the top of the pass, to Ellensburg and then Potholes State Park in Grant County.

Between Ellensburg and the Potholes, the group had to load their vehicles into a shuttle to cross the Columbia River. Their shuttle connected them from the Vantage area to Beverly, because the train trestle that connects the west shore of the river to Beverly is currently being decked for inclusion in the trail.

With 212 miles complete the riders camped overnight June 3 at the Potholes near Othello and departed for Ritzville.

They stay the night in Ritzville before departing for Tekoa on Friday, June 4.

That day, they passed through Malden and Rosalia. In Rosalia, they took a break to climb a large haystack.

Arriving in Tekoa that evening, they crossed paths with the John Wayne Pioneer Wagons and Riders group.

Tekoa was hosting at least three cycling groups, the wagon train and high school graduation festivities, turning the small town into a vibrant activity center Friday and Saturday evenings.

By the time the cyclists settled in for the night, they had completed 355 miles.

The group left Saturday morning bound for Pinehurst, Idaho, which would mark 422 miles complete.

In leaving, they passed a John Way Trail – also called the Palouse to Cascade Trail – marker showing they were 1,855 miles from Chicago. At about noon, they reached the Idaho border.

During a short break there, cyclist Miriam Huebner of Winnipeg, Manitoba, said she was feeling pretty good about the ride.

"I'm feeling surprisingly good," she said. "I thought I'd feel way more sore than I am."

Huebner, who attends Canadian Mennonite University, said she joined the ride to "challenge myself."

"My back's a little sore, but it's not as bad I was I was expecting," she said.

Goshen student Denver Beck of Archbold, Ohio, said he was glad to be on the trip.

"I love the outdoors and am really passionate about climate action," he said. "It's really kind of a sweet way to put those two things together."

Beck said Washington state is beautiful.

"We don't have mountains like this in Ohio," he said. "In Ohio, we don't have any hills."

Alderfer said the people the cyclists have met while traversing Eastern Washington have been "really hospitable."

"We've had at least one good conversation here every day," he said, of stopping to talk to locals interested in their trek.

– To follow the riders on social media, log onto http://www.facebook.com/CenterforSustainable


Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Author photo

Roger Harnack is co-owner and publisher of Free Press Publishing. An award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher who grew up in Eastern Washington, he's one of only two Washington state journalists ever to receive the international Golden Quill for editorial/commentary writing. Roger is committed to preserving local media, and along with it, a local voice for Eastern Washington.


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