Burnham added that they ride through small towns, getting to know residents and sleeping in local venues such as parks and fire stations.
“I think it’s the lifestyle that pretty much brings me back and gets everybody really excited,” he said.
UNC sophomore Miles Rosen, an alumnus of the troop, said hanging out in the small towns is his favorite aspect of the trip.
“It’s a lot of fun. The biking you have to do is great — there are times when it’s kind of fun — but mostly I like getting to see the country,” Rosen said.
UNC junior Aidan Kelley said he expects the first part of the trip through the Appalachian Mountains to be a tough introduction.
“The training you do ahead of time is only going to affect whether that first week is going to be terribly difficult, or only mildly difficult,” he said.
Burnham said new and unknown physical challenges will await the bikers daily, even after they finish the first few days of steep climbing.
“It kind of keeps you on your toes and adapting every single day,” he said.
As of this week, the bikers were a little over halfway to their goal of raising $30,000 for the two causes.
Jennifer Bowman, a special events coordinator for the cancer center, said the money raised by the Lucky 13 will fund research, treatments and outreach programs for patients and families.
For every $15,000 that is raised, the cancer center will sponsor a patient to attend the camp, Bowman said.
She added that she has no doubt the bikers will reach their goal.
“It’s an inspirational young group of men who are so wise beyond their years already,” she said.
Burnham said they will continue collecting donations for the rest of the summer and into the fall.
Although Aidan Kelley said he is not a cycling enthusiast, he said other factors of the trips outweigh the challenges.
“The bonds you form, the beautiful sights you see and the feeling of adventure and disconnection from the normal routines of life are what make the trip so special,” he said.
Rosen said he also has reservations about biking, but shares Kelley’s passion for the ride.
“If I didn’t love (the trips) I wouldn’t do them, but they’re absolutely the greatest thing that I’ve ever done, and I want to keep doing them for as long as I can.”
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