Almost a year ago, the three began to form the idea for this journey. Meyer and
Foley met when they were both high school students, attending Phillips Academy
Andover in Massachusetts. Since high school, they’d wanted to take a bike trip
across America, and though they went to separate colleges, the idea stuck.
Then Foley met Groeneveld on the crew team at Harvard, and told him the idea.
All three loved the idea of the bike ride; but they wanted it to be something
more, for their journey to have a point.
Each of them had done charity work in the past, especially Foley, who had done
work for World Vision, helping to build a school in Uganda.
Foley said his mother had worked with the non-profit organization many times in
the past, and as a younger boy, he’d also helped, so he reached out to World
That’s how the three young men formed Team Ride to School, building their trip
around raising money for Zambikes, another World Vision project.
Zambikes supplies children in Zambia with bikes to help them get to school. Some
Zambian children can’t get to school because they live too far out for it to be
possible for them to get to the classroom every day.
For other kids, walking isn’t safe because they live in a dangerous area and may
not be able to get to school on foot without encountering violence.
Zambikes supplies the means for the children to achieve their dreams of
education, something kids in the United States usually don’t have to think
Only the oldest American grandfathers tell tales of having to walk 10 miles
in the snow to get to school anymore, but in many places in the world, it still
happens, and – even worse – it isn’t just snow in the way of these children.
Bullies and violence face them along the way, posing a far greater impediment
than the cold.
Foley, Meyer and Groeneveld all loved the work of Zambikes. They also liked the
way it tied in neatly with the concept of their ride – three young men, off from
school, pedaling across the United States for bikes for underprivileged children
so that the Zambian kids could then make the ride to school for themselves. It
was poetic, they said, and definitely worthwhile.
“It was perfect, the way it all worked out,” Groeneveld said.
Tom Foley Jr., James Groeneveld and Trey Meyer
celebrate reaching the Pacific
The stories they tell about the ride across America are awe-inspiring,
inspirational, full of testimonies to the human spirit and the kindness of
Of course, on a ride lasting 54 days and covering nearly 4,000 miles, there are ups and downs,
and they had a few.
They rode more than 100 miles on many days, dealt with bike breakdowns, slept
in parks, motels, private homes, in churches and at a fire station. They crossed
the Appalachian, Ozark, Rocky and Cascade mountains, got chased by a big dog,
saw a grizzly bear and coped with blistering heat and high winds.
One night, in Colorado, they mistook a resort for a public campground.
“It was dark out, so we rode right past the campsite,” Groeneveld said, and they
woke up to an angry resort manager demanding they leave.
“He really wanted us to get out of there,” said Foley. “But they had guests
Angry resort managers and tornados aside, they found a lot of goodwill along the
“One night we didn’t have a place to sleep,” said Meyer. “We were talking
amongst ourselves at this pizza place about it.”
After they’d eaten, they continued to discuss where they could spend the night.
“We are talking to ourselves,” Meyer said, “'cause now we don’t really know where
we are staying for the night, and we ask the waitress, ‘Hey, do you mind if we
camp out in your backyard, or something?’ And then this guy, who had been
listening in, comes over and says, ‘Hey, I’m a doctor from Portland, I don’t
mean to be listening in . . . but it’s really cool what you are doing, and I
think my kids would love to meet you.’ So, we had a place to stay that night.”
The doctor’s generosity was just one of many memorable kindnesses along their
way. The three agreed that probably the best part of the experience was getting
to see America from the inside out.