Featured, Local News

Cyclists ride coast-to-coast for pancreatic cancer

By Evan Johnson

Clad in cycling shoes, shorts and superhero t-shirts, three friends near the end of their cross-country bike trip to raise money for pancreatic cancer research.

The trip, which is being called Portland to Portland, is a project of Josh Johannessen, Scott Phillips, and José Alfaro, three high school friends from Budd Lake, N.J., who had the idea to ride across the country for a cause.

The trip began when Johannessen had the itch to hit the road again on another long-distance bike trip. Last year, he biked from New Jersey to Santa Monica, Calif., and then north to Seattle.

“I missed having that sense of adventure and I wanted to do another trip,” he said.

Johannessen’s previous trip raised funds for a friend battling breast cancer. This time, he put a call out on Facebook looking for riding partners. Alfaro was the first to take him up on the invitation and asked if they could raise funds for pancreatic cancer research.

Phillips joined soon after.

For the journey this summer, the group shipped their bikes to Portland, Ore., and started by dipping their tires in the Pacific ocean before traveling east, over the Rocky Mountains.

Along the way, they’ve been camping and staying with accommodations found using Warm Showers, an online community and mobile app for touring cyclists that helps two-wheeled travelers find lodging.

Since starting June 20, they’ve been averaging 94 miles per day. Their longest day was 152 miles and shortest was 43.

While on the road, they play music on a Bluetooth speaker strapped to the frame of one of their bikes loaded down with everything needed for long-distance travel. They’ve also seen their share of mountains, deserts, hot springs and cities. During an overnight ride, they even encountered a mountain lion in the middle of the road.

“The scenery out West is gorgeous,” said Phillips.

They also recounted the generosity of strangers.

“It’s given me hope for humanity,” Alfaro said.

So far, the group has raised just over $8,000 of their $10,000 goal and hope to raise the remaining amount by the time they dip their tires in the Atlantic Ocean. Until then, Johannessen said, they’re focused on enjoying every remaining mile.

“I’ve been saying that every day is my new favorite day of the trip,” he said.

To learn more about the group and their ride, visit www.bikingportlandtoportland.com.

By Evan Johnson

Portland to Portland team , left to right, José Alfaro, Scott Phillips and Josh Johannessen stopped by the Mountain Times office last week while on their way toward New Hampshire. 


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