Two San Lorenzo Valley friends will embark on the journey of a lifetime, a two-month cycling trip across the U.S. to raise money for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters and to send campers to summer camp in Mount Hermon.
Daniel McDonough, 24 and James Schimmel, 22, plan to embark July 8 on a cross-country ride, camping each night along the route to explore the United States from the saddle of a bicycle.
It was McDonough’s idea to take the sojourn.
“With work and school I haven’t taken more than two weeks off for five years. I wanted to do something different,” McDonough said. He talked with Schimmel and asked him if he’d like to ride across the U.S. Schimmel, a recent college graduate, couldn’t resist.
“That sounds amazing,” was his response. Schimmel said he hasn’t taken an extended break since 2004.
The duo plans to ride 60 to 100 miles per day along the Western Express and Trans American cycling routes. The ride will end in New York, N.Y. sometime in September.
For the last several months the two have been getting their ducks in a row. They began raising support for the ride — proceeds will benefit Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center’s 311 Campership fund. Specifically they wish to send youth to camp from the Big Brothers program, which McDonough takes part in. The cycling duo already raised enough to send a 12-year-old boy who is McDonough’s “little brother” to camp.
The campership fund provides more than $350,000 each year in scholarships to needy youth and families to attend camp in Mount Hermon, said Executive Director Roger Williams. The fund also helps bring military families to camp before and after deployment, as well as inner-city youth from Sacramento.
McDonough, a 2007 San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate, and Schimmel who graduated from SLV in 2009, both grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley. Schimmel has worked at the Mount Hermon Conference Center for nearly a decade in many different roles, and sought the support of the conference center.
Mount Hermon has supported the rider’s efforts by providing them with Raleigh bicycles and Mount Hermon cycling gear, including shirts and shorts.
“We have a lot of cycling here,” said Josie Shafer, part Mount Hermon’s adventure staff. It’s great to be able to sponsor them. It takes a lot of fortitude on their part.”
The duo each has about 75 pounds of gear, including individual tents, several changes of clothes, tools, tires, first aid supplies, water, and a Frisbee.
One thing they do not plan to bring are headphones to listen to music on the road.
“I’m really excited to leave the cell phones off and no computers,” Schimmel said. The two are using paper maps and plan to leave their cell phones turned off, except for emergencies or to check text messages at night.
They will purchase food along the way and they hope that sponsors are willing to send packages of food to post offices along the route, so that they can simply pick up a meal during their ride. The duo said supporters can text the duo along the route at 600-5176 to find out where to send food.
The summer heat may be their biggest challenge.
“That is our biggest concern,” McDonough said. “We may have to bike through the night and we’ll drink a lot of water. There is a lot of natural water along the way, so hopefully we can jump in every day.”
The two lead active lifestyles and have not done much specific training for the ride, except to ride their bikes to work — for McDonough, 20 miles. They believe they will build up the necessary muscles as they make their way, riding six days each week, with one day off. But the ride is all about raising money for camperships.
“I just hope we can benefit a lot of kids,” McDonough said.
A barbecue send-off in their honor will take place at 11 a.m., Monday, July 8 at the Mount Hermon Fieldhouse, 37 Conference Drive, in Mount Hermon. All are welcome to attend.
For information about their ride or how to support them, visit www.mounthermon.org/give/current-need