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Cyclists point wheels toward D.C.

Auburn teacher and Del Oro grad among group heading cross-country on two wheels
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Five Auburn-area men are on the ride of their lives — a trans-continental bike ride from Auburn to Washington, D.C.
The team, made up of Kevin Rick, 47, of Auburn, John Woodall, 70, of Grass Valley, Mike Weaver, 69, of Grass Valley and Neil Dodds, 18, of Loomis, took off from Raley’s in Auburn Tuesday and plan to bike 3,663 miles in 44 days. Neil’s father, Bruce Dodds will follow in an SUV as their trusty driver.
Woodall, who has made the trek before, said divine inspiration at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grass Valley motivated him this time.
“A priest came from Vladivostok, Russia. I was so moved by what he had to say,” Woodall said. “I went to bed that night and all of a sudden I was really moved by the idea that we could bike across America to raise money to rebuild the church in Vladivostok.”
For Rick, who teaches at Bowman Elementary School, the trip across America has been a lifelong dream. He said he was thrilled when his efforts at convincing his former high school mountaineering teacher to join him finally paid off. Dodds, one of the Eagle Scouts Rick mentors and a recent Del Oro graduate, was also dreaming of seeing America a little more intimately.
“Neil said something that stuck with me. If you fly across America, you see it land plot by land plot. When you drive across you see it city by city,” Rick said. “When you ride on a bicycle it’s fencepost by fencepost.”
Although he will miss his wife and their three children, Rick is ready for the challenge.
Weaver joined the team when his wife, who attends St. Patrick’s church with Woodall, told him about the ride.
“The strange thing about this is I had been talking about doing this and had told two other people, but hadn’t told my wife. I knew at that moment what I had to do,” Weaver said. “It’s exciting. I’m like a little kid right now. God willing, he’ll give us the strength to do this.”
To get ready for their trip across Highway 50, known as the loneliest highway in the United States, the team has been gearing up with practice rides. They will have to endure 80-100 miles per day in the saddle during a year of unpredictable weather. Woodall said they plan on camping most of the time, but will also stay in churches along the way. When all is said and done Woodall estimates they will have raised about $10,000 and made some incredible memories.
The team has faced some challenges starting off. Inclement weather on Monday forced them to push their start date back a day. The start city was also changed from Auburn to Carson City because of snow. Ricks plans on riding the Carson City to Auburn leg on the way back.
Dodds created a Facebook page, called Bike Across America Fan Page, where friends and family can track their progress with GPS updates.
“I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of crazy people on the road and seeing a lot of new things, wide open spaces and I don’t know crazy towns,” Dodds said. “Being the youngest guy on the trip is cool I guess because I have old guys to look up to and try to keep up with.”
Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.