By Maddy PUMILIA
Twelve teenagers, along with two 22-year-old leaders, who left Savannah, Ga. on bicycle on June 25 made a stop at Vons Market in Montrose before heading on to Santa Monica on Friday afternoon.
The teens, aged 15 to 17 years, have biked more than 3,000 miles. They are part of a summer program run by Overland, which according to its website offers a variety of outdoor, service, language, and writing programs for grades four through 12. Each program has a clearly defined goal: hike to the summit of a mountain peak, bike a coast, reach out to a community in need, learn another language, improve writing skills, connect with a culture.
But what might be more amazing than their trek is that the bikers, most from the New England area, hadn’t been on Facebook or used their cellphones in six weeks. The only electronic device Overland allows are cameras. Cellphones were banned by the company because they want to promote independence and self-reliance. So, the bikers instead wrote their families letters.
The group has had quite a journey. They average 85 miles per day, but that may vary. For example, one day in Arizona they covered 126 miles. When the terrain is mountainous, they have a shorter day.
Along the way they have camped or stayed in churches. The group has traveled through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and now California. They’ve journeyed along Route 66 and biked in the Angeles National Forest. They said Ozark Mountain in Missouri was far worse than ANF because they didn’t know when the route would end. They even went through the Mojave Desert.
“Colorado was the most beautiful,” said 16-year-old Harriet Fisher from New York.
“It just seemed like an amazing thing to propel yourself across the country,” said Caroline Bertoni, 17, from New Jersey. Caroline had previously been to Mount Kilimanjaro and biked from Vermont to Montreal with Overland.
“We’re so close [to the end]” said Fisher, who was on her first trip with Overland. “It’s been a long push.”