By Natalie Storey
After cycling about 100 miles from Butte to Bozeman Tuesday, Ryan Mayer insisted that he wasn’t tired — yet.
“ Not until all the days activities are over do I start to feel really drained,” Mayer said.
Mayer and 12 other cyclists making the 70-day, 44,000-mile, cross-country bike ride ended their day Tuesday at Reach Inc., a local organization that helps disabled people function in the Bozeman community.
The cyclists said the Reach stopover is one of their “friendship visits.”
Friendship visits are both draining and inspiring, Mayer said.
“ When we go to a friendship visit, the smiles we can put on people’s faces -- it’s a great feeling,” he said.
Mayer is traveling with Push America’s “Journey of Hope,” one of the dozens of service groups scheduled to stop in Bozeman on cross-country awareness and fund-raising trips. Bike-Aid, a national group promoting alternative energy sources, will stop in Bozeman Sunday.
Mayer’s 13-member troupe ranged in age from 20 to 35, all alumnus of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Push America is the fraternity’s service project, encouraging acceptance and understanding for Americans with disabilities. Its Journey of Hope began 15 years ago and is expected to raise more than $350,000 for the cause this year.
Each bike rider must raise $5,000 to participate in the ride. There are about 70 cyclists making the journey from Oregon to Virginia to on three different routes.
“ Personally, I just wanted a chance to see the country,” said Mayer, who just graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a degree in business. “And it’s for a good cause.”
Fellow biker Spencer Chan, on his first Journey of Hope, said Tuesday’s 100-mile trek wore him out.
This is Mayer’s third Journey of Hope. He said Tuesday, or day 16 of the trip, was one of the toughest days so far.
The bikers faced strong headwinds and lots of hills along U.S. 205 Tuesday.
“ For me it’s more of a mental challenge. Not stopping when you get tired is the hard part,” he said.
“ But when you go to a friendship visit and you hang out with someone that makes you forget about it.”
Today the bicyclists will head south on U.S. Highways 84 and 191 to West Yellowstone. Then they will travel through Yellowstone Park.
Mayer said with days like that, they sleep well every night.