Group cycling across country, raising money

Mike Linn

They’ve peddled up mountains and coasted through valleys. Passed prairie dogs by morning, dodged road kill by day. At one point a group of cattle joined them on a one mile stretch a few miles east of Albuquerque.
It’s all a part of the Pi Kappa Phi national fraternity’s 4,000 mile cycling trek to raise awareness and more than $350,000 for the severely handicapped, a press release from the fraternity states.
They will stop in Portales at 1:30 p.m. Monday, where Mayor Orlando Ortega will greet them at the Roosevelt County Courthouse. At 5:30 p.m. the group of 35 will provide a puppet show for children at the Southside Church of Christ. Shortly thereafter, the group will meet with local handicapped residents in what cyclists call a friendship visit.
“It’s just been unreal the experiences we’ve had with the handicapped,” said cyclist Brad Tomlin, a Pi Kapp from North Carolina State University. “We get in after a hard day, everybody is worn out, and then you go to a friendship visit and see exactly what you have. It’s awesome. It helps you get through the entire ride.”
The group started a month ago in San Francisco and have logged anywhere from 60 to 125 miles a day in their quest to reach Washington D.C. by summer’s end.
Matt Brooks, recent graduate of University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and public relations coordinator for the event, said for many handicapped the visit from cyclists is both appreciated and emotional.
“For the guys with disabilities it’s like Christmas,” Brooks said. “We come through once a year and for some people it’s their biggest event. To see the smiles on their faces and how much we are doing for them just through interaction makes our day, and the 80 to 120 mile rides a lot easier.”