By Matt Mackinder
Clarkston News Editor
Pop quiz question: What do you get when you mix a cross-country cycling journey, small-town America, and an international, humanitarian cause?
Answer: An adventure of a lifetime.
Kathryn Giroux is on a mission.
She’s setting out on a solo bike touring expedition cycling coast to coast more than 4,000 miles through rural America. Her motivation is to raise enough funds to donate 100 bicycles through the nonprofit organization, World Bicycle Relief.
Giroux is set to depart this Friday, June 17, from the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Ore.
“With all of the complex issues in the world, it can feel like there’s nothing you can do to make a difference,” said Giroux, a Clarkston native and 2009 Clarkston High School graduate. “And I thought, here’s something I can realistically take on. Providing bicycles is a simple and tangible way to immediately change individuals’ lives and transform entire communities.”
In developing regions, distance is a barrier to attending school, receiving health care, and delivering goods to market. Since 2005, World Bicycle Relief has provided more than 600,000 bicycles to women and girls, students, health workers, and farmers in need across Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia.
Giroux will follow the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, a 4,218-mile route originally mapped by the Adventure Cycling Association as a celebration of the nation’s 200th birthday. The route starts in Astoria, Ore., and ends in Yorktown, Va., connecting country roads and small towns across 10 states.
Her employer, Articulate, has awarded her a three-month service sabbatical to complete the journey.
Giroux must carry her food and camping provisions on the bike. Injuries, mechanical breakdowns, sickness, fatigue, bad weather, animals, and cars are just a few of the potential risks she’s identified along the trip.
“Whether we recognize it or not, the pandemic has forced us all to do big, hard things over the past couple of years,” said Giroux. “In my case, I just feel lucky that I get to choose to do the next big, hard thing for a good cause.
“It wouldn’t be as grand of a goal or an adventure if there wasn’t a little risk involved, would it?”
For updates or or to donate, visit give.worldbicyclerelief.org/fundraiser/3337618.
PHOTO: Clarkston native and 2009 CHS graduate Kathryn Giroux is preparing to cycle more than 4,000 miles across rural America to raise needed funds for World Bicycle Relief. Photo: Provided by Kathryn Giroux