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July 17, 2014

Teens rest in Norman during coast-to-coast cycling expedition

NORMAN — With nearly 1,500 miles covered, 13 cyclists have hit the halfway point on a six-week journey across the United States.

Known as the “American Challenge,” the cyclists have committed themselves to a trip that takes them from the coast of South Carolina to the coast of California.

As part of Overland’s Summer biking programs, students from across the U.S. are riding to reach their destination: Santa Monica, Calif., and the Pacific Ocean. Cyclists spent their weekly day of rest Wednesday at First Baptist Church Family Center in Norman for a journey they started in late June.

“We take short, efficient breaks when possible,” said Austin Bergeron, Overland trip leader, “but we’re all self-supporting. There aren’t any vans following us around. We carry all of our own stuff.”

Bergeron has previously lead an Overland group along the Pacific coast from Seattle to San Francisco and has been bike touring for four years. 

A typical day of cycling begins with a wake-up call at 4:30 a.m. The pedals begin turning at first light. While the average mileage has been close to 80 miles per day, some days of travel could range up to 100 miles to reach the end of their 3,000-mile journey.

The six-week trip takes students through South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and straight through California to the Pacific Ocean. 

“This is the big year,” said Caroline Holliday, Overland trip leader. Holliday leads alongside Bergeron to take care of their group comprised of students. This is Holliday’s first coast-to-coast trip across the U.S., despite her previous bike travels through Cape Cod and Europe. 

Holliday and Bergeron’s group is the third of four Overland teams that will travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific this summer.

The trip always starts with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. 

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