When you cycle 1,500 miles, you’re bound to run into a few problems.
“I had five flat tires — my tire exploded once,” Star Scout John McBroom says. “I had a couple of crashes.”
But that didn’t stop John or Eagle Scout Akhil Long, both 16-year-old Scouts with Troop 4010 of Clarksvillle, Ind., who completed a three-week journey this past summer that started in Tucson, Ariz., and ended in Helena, Mont. It was a trek that began with the duo earning the Cycling merit badge.
“It helped us love cycling and do more in cycling,” Akhil says. “Once you got into it, you find your love for it.”
Hitting the road
The Cycling merit badge requires a 50-mile trip done in eight hours. Before earning the badge, John and Akhil never rode their bicycles.
“It definitely inspired us to do more trips,” John says. “It opened our eyes to biking.”
The Scouts joined an Indiana-based youth cycling group called deCycles, which organizes trips, often crossing multiple state lines. The group’s summer trek would visit multiple national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Zion and Yellowstone. One day required 200 miles on the road with more than 9,000 feet gained in elevation, but the group of 40 riders averaged about 90 miles per day. The youth cyclists rode along scenic country roads, camping or staying at churches.
Not all days were spent on the road, some days allowed for sight-seeing the parks and towns along the route. They spotted bear and elk near Yellowstone; enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Powell and participated in a Fourth of July parade in Provo, Utah. After 21 days, they were bused back to Indiana, proud of their accomplishment.
You can do it, too
John and Akhil’s trip was not part of an official Scouting activity; however, long cycling treks are possible within Scouting. Bike day trips are appropriate for all Scouts, from Lions to older youth, while multiple-night endeavors should be reserved to Scouts BSA, Sea Scouts, Venturers and Explorers. For tips on planning a cycling journey, check out these links:
If you want some more inspiration, see these other stories: