For Lauren Cummings, cross country bicycle trips are a family tradition, especially on the male side.
Her dad and two uncles completed a cross country bike trip by the time they left college. Her grandfather even attempted the feat at age 40 but only made it from California to Kansas before suffering an injury.
Cummings, a junior majoring in art and design, decided to embark on her own transcontinental bike ride, but felt it should be about more than peddling across 3,000 miles and several states. Cummings was joined by her younger brother and two others who wanted to use their trip as a way to raise money for Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.
“We chose Mott because we felt so lucky and healthy to be able to do something like that and wanted to help give kids a chance to get better,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of something that could help others and make a difference.”
To prepare for her trip, Cummings made sure to practice riding as much as possible and spread the word about her trip to potential donors. The team set up a donation account and blog so people could make donations online and track their progress along the way. Her group also made matching cycling jerseys, bearing the Mott Hospital logo on the front and sleeves, to reflect their charitable mission.
The best part of her trip, Cummings said, was meeting people on the route. The group came across many people who gave them countless thumbs up and even received donations from some. “We met a man in Missouri who was working on his lawn when he saw our jerseys,” she said. “He told us he was originally from Muskegon and his daughter received treatment at Mott. It was surprising and encouraging to talk with a person affected by the hospital.”
Grueling at times, the expedition had to cross three mountain ranges including the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide. Cummings said the hardest part of their trip was the trek through Missouri. “Crossing the Ozark Mountains involved a lot of ups and downs where it was tough to rest or build up momentum,” she said. “On the other hand, the Rocky Mountains were surprisingly easy.” The long uphill peddle sessions were mitigated by long, high-speed, downhill runs at speeds up to 55 miles per hour.
After more than a month of hard peddling and great experiences, Cummings said she couldn’t believe she had crossed the entire U.S. “It felt great to ride for the kids at Mott and work toward making a difference in their lives.”
Cummings’ group raised $6,000 for Mott Children’s Hospital.