It’s a story of inspiration and perspiration for 60-year-old aerospace engineer Erik Andrews from Oberlin, Ohio. After bicycling over 3,300 miles, he plans to complete his 11-week trek across the country Thursday, Aug. 20.
Andrews’ journey across America started June 7 when he dipped the back tire of his 30-pound bicycle, along with its 40 pounds of gear, into the Pacific Ocean at Surf, Calif. He plans to dip his front tire in the Atlantic at Rehoboth Beach to complete the cross-country journey. So far, Andrews has raised over $21,250 for Appalachia Service Project, with a goal of raising $30,000. If that goal is met, a $10,000 matching grant is triggered, bringing the total to $40,000.
Andrews has been a long-term volunteer with ASP. For the last 24 years, he spent one week each summer serving through home repair for low-income families in Central Appalachia. This year, ASP postponed hosting volunteers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, although need for its home repair ministry remained high. Andrews decided to make his summer count for the people of Appalachia by turning to his longtime passion of cycling.
He is pedaling in his construction boots, without toe clips of any kind, on the entire journey. The boots keep him connected to the construction volunteering he’s done in the past and hopes to do again. Andrews’ average daily ride is 60 miles, and he’s gained more than 100,000 feet in elevation since his start. He is also making the trip solo, with no vehicles driving with him.
“Being on the threshold of concluding this journey brings with it both the excitement of completion and melancholy of its ending,” said Andrews. “Prayerfully sharing this dream and ride with others in both words and pictures, who in turn have been inspired to support ASP with their own resources, has been tremendously gratifying and something for which I’m most thankful.”
For his real job, Andrews has been building satellites or their ground systems since 1983 as a software/systems engineer. He is currently the principal software systems engineer for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
Andrews’ ride-by-ride journey and fundraising progress are being documented at www.paa4asp.org and on Facebook and Twitter @pedal4asp.