2014-06-25 / Front Page

Women Bike Across Nation To Support Volunteer Program

by David Pugh
Buckeye Staff Writer


Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger, in the foreground, and Chelsea Goss stopped by the Archbold Buckeye office, Monday, June 9, on a bicycle ride across the United States. The pair is taking a zigzag route across the country, stopping at churches, homes of family or friends, and camping. On Monday afternoon, June 23, the two were in Trenton, Mo. Maldonado-Nofziger is a Pettisville native; Goss is from Richmond, Va.– photo by David Pugh Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger, in the foreground, and Chelsea Goss stopped by the Archbold Buckeye office, Monday, June 9, on a bicycle ride across the United States. The pair is taking a zigzag route across the country, stopping at churches, homes of family or friends, and camping. On Monday afternoon, June 23, the two were in Trenton, Mo. Maldonado-Nofziger is a Pettisville native; Goss is from Richmond, Va.– photo by David Pugh More than a year ago, Chelsea Goss, Richmond, Va. had an idea.

She wanted to bike across the United States “to see more of the country and meet its people.”

The problem: she wanted a partner to go along.

People would express an interest, and then back out.

“I said to myself if I don’t meet anyone in the next week or two that wants to bike around the country, then I’m just going to drop the whole idea.”

That’s when she shared a room at an urban farm in Pennsylvania with Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger, PHS ‘08 and a Pettisville native.

“She said, ‘Well, if you need a bike partner, I’ll go,’” Goss said.

Goss couldn’t have picked a better partner. While Goss had commuted on her bicy- cle, she’d never done a longdistance tour.

“I’d run farther than I’d biked,” she said.

Maldonado-Nofziger, on the other hand, was an experienced long-distance bicycle rider. In fact, she and her father, Robin, traveled by bicycle from Pettisville to Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., in 2008, a trip of 537 miles.

Maldonado- Nofziger graduated from EMU with a nursing degree in 2012.

“Some of them were hard miles,” Maldonado-Nofziger said.

Goss moved to Chicago, but she and Maldonado- Nofziger stayed in touch planning their trip.

But it didn’t become official until about two weeks before they set off from Hampton, Va., on May 1.

Their goal is to reach Oregon by Aug. 20.

Unlike many cross-country cyclists, they aren’t taking a direct route.

Instead, they planned to zigzag around, staying with friends or in churches.

The original plan was to camp only a few nights.

They were in the Pettisville area, Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, where they enjoyed a cookout with Maldonado-Nofziger’s family and attended church.

They had been as far west as Fort Wayne, Ind., before heading back east.

They said they had averaged 60 miles a day, but had put a couple of 100-mile days behind them.

Monday afternoon, June 23, found them in Trenton, Mo., in the northern part of the state.

Goss said they had run into rain, but “we keep biking right through it.”

Goss said they’d been riding through some 90-degree days.

As they go west, towns are fewer and farther apart. If they see someone out in their yard, they’ll stop and ask to fill up their water jug.

So far, Goss said they have kept on schedule.

People

In a June 9 interview, the women said they had met many wonderful people.

“Awesome, unbelievable,” Maldonado-Nofziger said.

“The hospitality everyone has showed, everyone has been so loving, just to open up their doors to us and treat us like family,” Goss said.

“Even strangers on the road,” said Maldonado- Nofziger. “People are really nice."

She said people should ignore the negative images of the country presented by television.

“The United States has a lot of really great people. You just have to be willing to find them, and be into meeting new people.”

For example, while riding with two Canadian boys, one boy's bike broke a spoke, and Goss’ bike had a flat tire.

“Instead of the bike mechanic having us pay or having (one of the Canadians) pay, they fixed his bike for free, they fixed Chelsea’s flat for free, and they gave us money,”Maldonado-Nofziger said.

But there are some cases where not everyone has been courteous.

Goss said some motorists pass them without giving them enough room.

“It hasn’t been bad,” Goss said. “There have been a few obnoxious people who have thrown on their brakes to squeak right behind us, but for the amount of cars that go by us every day, most give us room.

“But not everyone.”

“If people honk at you or say something to you, that’s good news, because they noticed you. If they don’t, that’s when you’re in trouble, and they will probably hit us,” Maldonado-Nofziger said.

“So in my mind, (if people honk or shout) that means, ‘Yes! They noticed me, and they’re yelling at me but that means they’re not going to kill me.’”

Sponsor

Their ride is being sponsored by Brethren Volunteer Service, a part of The Church of the Brethren.

Goss said BVS offers oneand two-year volunteer opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. Both are full-time BVS volunteers.

The ride promotes BVS, and the pair speaks to church and youth groups about BVS when they have the opportunity.

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