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Scouts cycle across country, stop here
Eagle Scouts from Troop 165 in Fredericksburg visited Martinsville on Monday during their cycling journey from San Francisco to Virginia Beach. The scouts have cycled about 70 miles per day during their trip. (Bulletin photo by Derek Major)
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
By DEREK MAJOR - Bulletin Staff Writer
Eagle Scouts with Troop 165 of Fredericksburg have turned an annual summer event into a cross-country ride spanning 4,000 miles.
Known as the Eagle Scouts Cycling Across America (ESCAA), the event allowed 10 Eagle Scouts to spend the summer riding from San Francisco to Virginia Beach to raise awareness of health and exercise for other teenagers through cycling.
They spent Monday night at the Martinsville YMCA.
“The purpose of the ride is that these 10 young men, all Eagle Scouts, wanted to show that Boy Scouts provide a way for young men to build their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-reliance, and in particular they wanted to show it through cycling, which is one of the things they’ve learned to do very well through the scouts program,” said Bob Merman, fundraiser and media director.
“Cycling provides a good, healthy outlet that can be used by people who want to do it professionally, recreationally and just families who want to go out and be active together,” he added.
The cycling group, which includes 10 boys ages 15 to 18, Scoutmaster Bruce White and a few volunteers, started on June 8 when they drove from Fredericksburg to San Francisco. On June 14, the group started the ride back to Virginia from Stinson Beach, Calif., about an hour north of San Francisco.
The troop has done a summer ride for the last 15 years, usually crossing a few states on the East Coast, but this is the first time the group has done a ride of this magnitude.
“Every year we’ve done a ride and this group of boys have done several rides in the past few years, but nothing at this level,” White said. “It was their idea to make this ride two years ago, so we planned it. A lot went into putting this together, but it was worth it.”
The group has received a lot of help from the Boy Scouts of America and other sponsors such as the Martinsville YMCA, which hosted the group on Monday night.
“We’ve been able to stay at scout troop houses, scout reservations, camps and things like that along the way,” Herman said. “We also got help from a group called Warm Showers, which is a group that offers hospitality to cyclists across the country, so we’ve had individuals open their homes to us, and we’ve also stayed in YMCAs.”
The Martinsville YMCA, which was one of the last stops for the group, got involved through the YMCA in Fredericksburg.
“Our charter organization in Fredericksburg called here to the Martinsville YMCA, and they wasted no time giving us the OK, saying, ‘Sure you can stay here. Order some pizza. Whatever needs to be done, we’ll accommodate you,’” Herman said.
Some of the riders know this is an experience they will never forget.
“This has been amazing for me, mostly because of the leadership skills that it has helped build. The scouts will only take you so far,” said Jonathan Herman. “But this trip has really tested our ability to lead and our physical abilities to ride.”
Since starting their trek back home, the group has been riding at least 70 miles per day. They took some days off to rest and plan to reach Virginia Beach on Friday. In total, the group will have traveled more than 3,770 miles by bike.
For the scouts on the ride, it was a great chance to see the country and to test themselves.
“This has been an amazing experience. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and our capabilities, and we’ve pushed ourselves further than we thought possible,” said Logan Everts, 17. “At the same time we’ve toured America and got to see what this country is all about, we’ve met all kinds of people and they’ve been wonderful to us.”
The scouts also talked about the people they met.
“We’ve met 35 different troops along the way and we’ve had scouts, parents and others ride with us along the way,” White said. “In total we’ve had over 100 people ride with us along the country.”