Marcus Larson/News-Register##Lizzy Trickey, left, and Haley Winkelman, along with their pet rat, Beef, will soon bike across the United States in an effort to raise money for Watsi, a nonprofit that provides medical care around the world.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Lizzy Trickey, left, and Haley Winkelman, along with their pet rat, Beef, will soon bike across the United States in an effort to raise money for Watsi, a nonprofit that provides medical care around the world.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Denali the rat, known as “Beef,” will spend most of the trip riding on his friend Lizzy Trickey’s shoulder. She’s also building a special carrying case for him that
will attach to the front of her bike.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Denali the rat, known as “Beef,” will spend most of the trip riding on his friend Lizzy Trickey’s shoulder. She’s also building a special carrying case for him that will attach to the front of her bike.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac women plan to cycle the country

“Riding is fun,” said Haley Winkelman, who plans to depart May 8 with friend Lizzy Trickey. “You’re moving slow, you can see things, you can stop at anything,”

Trickey noted, “On a bike, you can think, plan, tell jokes, experience.”

And while riding, the women said, they can raise money to help people all over the world receive medical care through a nonprofit website located at www.watsi.org. They’re already soliciting pledges — a penny a mile would cost a donor about $100 in all — and will be asking everyone they meet along the way to donate to Watsi as well.

The Watsi effort is about “strangers helping strangers all over the world,” Winkelman said. “There’s something very beautiful about that.”

Trickey said, “We live in the U.S. and take for granted how easy it is for us to be treated if we’re sick or hurt. It’s not that way everywhere. For some people, a simple broken arm can be life-threatening.”

She and Winkelman have spoken a lot about helping others. And they’ve had plenty of time to talk, as they’ve been on several other bike excursions, including one that took them north to Port Angeles, Washington, then south to Napa, California.

The two women met at Chemeketa Community College’s McMinnville campus. They and Winkelman’s sister, Heather, had many classes together.

All three completed Chemeketa’s two-year program in 2010. Along the way, they became so close, many classmates thought they were triplets.

Trickey now works with her father, Adam, at Gearbox Studios, and Winkelman is on the verge of graduating from George Fox University. In fact, they’ve set their departure date for a week after the GFU commencement ceremony.

With six weeks left before they start pedaling, they are excited and a little nervous. They’ve been planning so long, they said, that it almost doesn’t seem real anymore.

Winkelman said it’s taken nearly two years just to establish their route.

She used Google, weather websites and paper maps to plot their way across the northern part of the U.S, then to Maine, the Eastern Seaboard and back across the lower part of the country.

In some places, they will ride through only a corner of a state. In others, they will take a more central route that will lead them to a must-see attraction.

“It’s hard to limit yourself,” Winkelman said. “One of the cool things about America is that there’s so much to see. You could spend your entire life exploring.”

Their list has come to include Yellowstone, the Black Hills and Wounded Knee, among other sites, and a stop in Washington, D.C., to visit museums.

“A lot of people do ‘Portand to Portland, or Oregon to Maine,” Trickey said. “We’re going to do Portland to a lot of places that start with P.”

They will be posting photos on Instagram and blogging along the way. Local residents can follow their trip through their website, www.withinbikingdistance.com.

While leaving McMinnville seems a little unreal at the moment, they said they’re eager to get going. They expect to ride about 55 miles a day, six days a week, from their departure in May until their return in December.

They will load their bikes with sleeping bags, tarps, cooking gear, clothes, Frisbees and other necessities. They plan to carry food and water, too, especially in remote areas.

“When you’re riding, all you do is think of food,” said Trickey, who saves ketchup and jelly packets for snacks.

She and Winkelman said they’ve also developed a lot of cycling-friendly road recipes, such as spaghetti noodles mixed with peanut butter, teriyaki sauce and “whatever vegetables you can find,” or mashed potatoes mixed with barbecue baked beans.

Trickey has one last thing to do before they go: Attaching to her bike a safe, warm habitat for her pet rat, Denali, nicknamed “Beef” because of his impressive girth. Inquisitive Beef is eager to become the first rat to cycle around the U.S., she said.

“He’s been riding for about a year,” she said, explaining how he climbs onto her shoulder and clings to her hair or her hoodie. “He picked it up pretty quick.”

Trickey and Winkelman chose the name “Within Biking Distance” for their effort because “everywhere we want to go is within biking distance,” even if it’s a lengthy ride. In addition, through Watsi and the kindness of donors, “everyone is within biking distance of treatment,” they said.

Both women have long been avid bikers.

Winkelman grew up riding with her parents, Steve and Melissa Winkelman, and her grandmother. She and her dad biked from McMinnville to New York City a few years ago. And she has commuted from McMinnville to George Fox many times on her Rivendell Hunqapillar.

Trickey also remembers many bike rides with her father and mother, Keri. Her 1970s Trek bike is her main form of transportation these days, she said.

In preparation for the trip, “We rebuilt Lizzy’s bike,” Winkelman said. She has worked at Tommy’s Bike Shop, which she said is providing much support for the effort.

Both she and Trickey are confident they can handle any problems they encounter riding across the country. They’ve already had a lot of experience coming up with creative solutions on previous trips.

Once, Winkelman said, “We fixed her derailer with Chapstick.” Trickey noted, though, “I had to ride the next 60 miles without shifting.”

The memory makes the friends laugh. They have many memories like that — great bike and travel memories that enrich their lives.

“Remember the baby raccoons?” Winkelman asked Trickey, and they laughed through a tale of awakening in a dark park with a large family of raccoons investigating their campsite.

Another time, they said, they were attacked by weasels. Looking back, they remember it as just another happy adventure.

Comments

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Being attacked by a meat eating weasel is never a "happy adventure"

Marna Porath

You go, girls! What in inspiring story. It was great to recognize you at the Native Plant Society meeting on Thursday night - thank you for introducing yourselves! We'll be in touch ...

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