These Pittsburgh teens are cycling across the country to help families in Haiti
Photo above courtesy of Pittsburgh Youth Leadership.
Two local brothers are in the middle of an epic bike ride across the country.
They started in California on March 10 and plan to be on the Atlantic coast of Florida on March 27. That’s 18 days.
Pedaling through wide open spaces, city streets clogged with cars, small towns dotting Texas, and across surfaces that look unearthly in White Sands National Park, Chago and Cruz Bradbury are biking about nine hours every day.
The brothers, 16 and 18 years old, homeschooled in Highland Park, are cycling with Cody Wagner, program director for Pittsburgh Youth Leadership which uses cycling to help young people. For the boys, it started with curiosity.
“I think the challenge of doing it [and] also the wonderment of ‘Can I do it or not?’,” 16-year-old Chago said.
His 18-year-old brother, Cruz, a high school senior, said, “First off, come up with amazing stories, experiences. I think those just kind of shape us as human beings – who we become.”
They’re also cycling to raise money for the people of Haiti – a place they visited with their Dad who co-founded the non-profit Haiti H2O.
Cruz explained how the charity works. “They help build houses. They help make porta-potties, but they use the tools and then they leave it there for the village to make their own and do it by themselves.”
The journey started with the atmospheric river drenching them in California, then wound through canyons, up extreme inclines of 7-thousand vertical feet. Cruz pulled his achilles but cycled the next day supported by his brother and Cody.
“They kind of helped me out with the draft for me to take a lot off the load,” he said. Drafting is when one rider moves into the low-pressure area behind another cyclist to cut back on wind resistance and reduce the amount of energy needed to pedal. They average 150 miles a day, and even rode 180 one day — biking so late some days it’s dark out.
Cruz said on those days, “You just have to take a deep breath and just keep on biking through the night, even though it’s a little scarier.”
Chago said, “Whenever… obstacles hit, you have to have a clear mind of how you want to get through it, and you have to be prepared for anything to come at you, and so I’ve learned a lot of that already.”
The mantra at Pittsburgh Youth Leadership is cycling is a metaphor for life. You can take the easy way out, but if you accept the challenge, you’re going to learn what’s deep inside you and be a better person for it.
Chago is learning that on this adventure. “I was coming into it thinking it was more of a test of strength to see how strong [I am], but really it was a test of faith and how strong is your mind.”
Pittsburgh Youth Leadership has been around for 17 years helping kids in disadvantaged communities improve their lives by using cycling. They’ve done some cross-country trips with the kids before, but never in this short of a time span. They also do a lot of training rides around our area and shorter rides around the region. Kidsburgh will be featuring their main work in a future story. You can learn more about Pittsburgh Youth Leadership here.
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