Students plan countrywide bike trip
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Article by: Derek Anderson
After four years at Suffolk and much preparation, Gregory Ralich and Bianca Pettinicchi will trade graduation robes for bicycle wheels as they head out on a 4,000 mile cross-country bike trip one week after they graduate to benefit the Autism Society of America. The two will be leaving from Boston, preferably from the shore, and biking all the way to San Francisco, where they will end the trip on the opposite shore of the country.
The desire to see the country fuels both Ralich and Pettinicchi, pushing them to make their journey on bicycles.
“I think that the fact of doing something ‘crazy’ after Greg and I graduate was a bit of a drive for me,” said Pettinicchi. “I have done a lot of traveling outside of the country and felt the need to see more of our country.”
“More generally, the way I see it is who wouldn’t want to take this kind of trip?” said Ralich. “I know not many [people] are as bike crazy as me, but what an adventure right? I’m really curious as to what it’s going to be like when we’re more than a week out on the road. I’ve only gone on one long ride before and it was only for a week and a half (600 miles) this is going to be more than three months!”
Ralich and Pettinicchi are both seniors at Suffolk and have been planning the cross country trip for over a year now. Ralich is an environmental studies major and Pettinicchi is a NESAD graphic design major. Pettinicchi had originally sparked the idea of the trip and Ralich had been skeptical. The issues of planning, specific bicycles and commitment stood in the way of an attempt, but soon Ralich realized the trip was a possibility. Now the excitement of travel bubbles in them as their trip draws closer and closer. They plan to leave on June 1 and hope to make stops in Philadelphia, Chicago and Colorado.
“I’ve never traveled really before,” said Ralich. “I’ve done the New Year’s poke up to Montreal and one skirt to London once but other than that I very seldom leave the New England bubble. I have always known that I have to travel before I lose the time or opportunity to do so, so we’re just kind of going for it.”
The two decided to go on the trip because of their love for biking. Ralich feels it would be the best way to see the country.
“On a bike you really expose yourself to nature and all your senses are being played with at once, it’s the best and only way I would ever go to California,” said Pettinicchi.
The two have been working hard in preparation for their 4,000 mile trek. Ralich and Pettinicchi have worked togetheron Suffolk Bikes for two years now and met through Suffolk.
They have been gathering supplies, mapping out their trip, as well as customizing their bikes to survive the trip ahead.
“We are building some pretty gnarly custom bikes,” said Ralich. “Bianca’s is almost done and mine will be done around April. They are being built by Geekhouse Bikes in Allston. I’m wrapping up my career at Suffolk with an internship there. We’re also busy preparing routes, gear, camping, and all that goes into the charitable aspect that we decided to coordinate.”
The trip is also charity trip, aiding the Autism Society of America (ASA). Pettinicchi and Ralich realized many would follow their cross-country bike ride and linked up with the ASA to help raise money towards their cause.
“My mom has worked in Mental Health for 30 years and with money as tight as it is in the US today charity is needed now more than ever,” said Ralich. “Funds are being cut from schools to health centers. We just thought it would be a nice thing to do and we would love to link up with people along the way who have something they want to contribute to our trip too.”
Ralich and Pettinicchi are asking for anything that people want to donate, but are working out something special for people who donate $1, $10 or $100 for each day they are on their trip.
“It’s been a blast and we both love riding. I think we just both really appreciate the theme of out on the road with just as much as you can carry no idea what tomorrow’s going to bring,” said Ralich. “We’ve definitely been planning for a while but I think when we linked up with Geekhouse Bikes we had the tools necessary and it was really up to us and became our trip then. I’m the bike nerd so now that the bikes are almost ready I’m feeling good.”