Boy Scout Bikers

Sophomore to lead group on 70-day trip

Rising UNC sophomore David Hare will lead a group of Boy Scouts on a bike ride this summer. DTH/Helen Woolard

Sophomore David Hare is spending his summer traversing the United States on a bicycle.

Consider it a twice-in-a-lifetime experience.

Three years after completing the 3,700-mile trek as a 15 year old with his fellow Boy Scouts, Hare is leading a group of local teenagers on the 70-day voyage from Aberdeen, Md., to Anacortes, Wash.

The group, co-led by Troop 845 Assistant Scoutmaster Brian Burnham, departs Monday.

Hare said he is looking forward to guiding the bikers, who will grind out more than 3,700 miles through the Midwest and several Canadian border states on their way to the Pacific coast before flying home in August.

“This time it’ll be easier because I know what I’m getting into,” said Hare, a business major and Troop 845 Eagle Scout.

“I have the mindset I need going into it, to know you can do it, the way to get through it.”

The route will be almost identical to the one Hare took in 2007, when his team broke the Boy Scouts record for longest trip. Burnham added 50 miles in Wyoming to this year’s itinerary, earning this group the new record.

On a trial run from Chapel Hill to Wilmington in April, the crew learned what a weekend’s worth of biking felt like. Many of the riders have little riding experience, Hare said.

“None of us would classify ourselves as bikers,” he said. “But the main push for us to go on the trip is the whole idea of being away all summer and doing something you’ll never do again.”

The boys are using the trip to raise money for UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, where Hare’s mother was treated for breast cancer in 2001. They’ll be collecting donations as they wind through the United States, aiming to top 2007’s fundraising total of $18,600.

Along for the ride are two other UNC students ­— seniors Charles LePrevost and Sam Ward — and UNC alumnus Alex Johnson.

LePrevost, a health policy and management major, will be measuring the bike-friendliness of towns and trails throughout the country as a part of his research for the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He will also conduct a nutritional analysis of corner stores in small towns.

Ward, a photojournalism student, will document the trip through photography and video, and said he hopes to use his work in his honors thesis.

Ward took part in a cross-country trip led by Burnham in 2005.

“I’m not as nervous on the bike as I was then,” he said. “That frees me up to focus on the passing countryside and really take in all the small towns, the people we meet, the mountains that we climb.”

The kids are a mix of Boy Scouts and baseball players Burnham coached at Smith Middle School. Some are as young as 15 years old.

Ty Fenton, who graduates from Carrboro High School on Saturday, said he isn’t nervous, although his mother might be.

“I had to promise I’d text her at least once a day,” he said.

A number of challenges await the group, said Burnham, who has biked cross-country three times since 2003.

The boys will have to battle the blazing sun, strong winds and rough roads, maintain their bikes and grapple with homesickness and fatigue, all while hauling more than 40 pounds of supplies with them.

“One of the hardest things about the trip is that there’s no single hardest part,” Burnham said. “There’s a new challenge every day.”

Depending on one another to reach their nightly campsite allows the kids to grow closer, he said.

“One of the big things that goes on on the trip is the group camaraderie. People get bonded really tightly together,” he said.

“You leave friends and family behind, and you become family when you’re out there.”

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