For the second time since graduation, Amanda Steinman ’17 and Nick Suarez ’17 biked cross country in support of Bike the US for MS.
It all started in Belk Library for Elon alumni Amanda Steinman ’17 and Nick Suarez ’17. Well, the idea of biking across the country did.
When Suarez and Steinman faced graduation and realized they had the upcoming summer free before starting their new jobs, they hatched a plan: to bike cross country in support of Bike the US for MS. Untrained. “Nick and I decided to sign up, and we didn’t train at all,” Steinman says. “Which was kind of crazy. We bought our bikes right before the trip and then we were off.”
Bike the US for MS is a nonprofit organization that supports research and awareness for multiple sclerosis. Every year the organization offers multiple routes across the nation for bikers to travel, see the country and, of course, raise money and awareness in hopes of finding a cure. The duo loved their 2017 bike trip so much that they embarked this summer on another cross-country journey with the organization. Suarez completed the entire course, and Steinman completed half due to a work engagement.
Although Suarez and Steinman began their ride without personally knowing anyone affected by MS, their journeys have helped them make lasting connections with several people who have been touched by the disease in some way. “We were wearing our uniforms and then random strangers rolled down their windows as they passed us, wanting to ask us about our story, why we’re doing this,” Steinman says. “Many would be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m personally affected by this disease, how can I help? How can I support your ride?’ Sometimes they ended up giving us money or some-times they hosted us at their house, or they brought us food, that sort of thing.”
Suarez and Steinman even attended a wedding in August of a couple they met on their first cross-country ride. But despite the friendships and memories the Elon alumni have made over the years, the actual biking didn’t always come easy. “The first couple weeks [of this summer’s trek] we were up in New England, and it was raining the whole time. You wake up, take your tent down and you ride all day,” Suarez says.
Throughout the trip, Suarez was reminded of why he was biking and who the ride was really for. All he had to do was read the message on the bracelet he and other bikers received at the start of the ride: “cycling for a cure.” “You just look down at your wrist and you see that bracelet,” Suarez says. “And what it’s supposed to do is remind us of the virtual rider who rides with us. That is somebody who actually has MS.”
While the biking was sometimes difficult, Suarez says he feels lucky that his body has the ability to make it across the country. Steinman echoes this sentiment and notes the whole experience has been personally rewarding.
“The people you meet along the way and their stories, it makes you so much more incredibly passionate about what you’re doing and who you’re riding for,” Steinman says. “This organization has become a family to us, and I think that’s the biggest reward we’ve gotten out of the experience.”