Fox Chapel teen biking across country for Parkinson’s awareness |
Fox Chapel

Fox Chapel teen biking across country for Parkinson’s awareness

Sharon Drake | For the Tribune-Review
Kathryn Rockwell trains everyday, often on local roads, so she will be ready to ride across America coast to coast this summer. Her trip is dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s research.

Fox Chapel teen Kathryn Rockwell bikes every day, often training on Lower Valley roads, so she will be ready to pedal across America coast to coast this summer.

Her trip kicked off June 27 and is dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s research.

Rockwell’s passion for cycling will manifest in a 37-day trek — and an average of 85 miles each day.

Her GoFundMe account, which will benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation, has surpassed the initial goal of $10,000.

Rockwell’s drive, in part, stems from not being able to complete the journey in 2018.

The now 18-year-old had pedaled close to the Arizona border, almost to her goal of the California coast, when she passed out while riding.

Stepping off the plane in Pittsburgh, the first thing she wanted to do was return and finish the ride.

She couldn’t complete it just then, but she says she is ready now.

“I won’t feel like I accomplished anything if I don’t finish (this year),” she said.

Starting again is an accomplishment in itself.

Her mother, Anne, said seeking this goal has made her daughter strong.

“The trip is so much mental. You have to get past that barrier,” she said.

Helping Parkinson’s research is part of Rockwell’s strength. Her paternal grandfather, Samuel Forbes Rockwell III, died from injuries suffered in a Parkinson’s-related fall.

She has dedicated months to training, averaging about 15 miles a day riding a bike. She uses a Peloton indoor bike when necessary but prefers the outdoors.

Short treks on Fox Chapel-area roads provide uphill workouts that are doubly hard with a 20-pound packed pannier on her back.

Longer rides, some up to 30 miles a day, are accomplished on local bike trails.

She and her father, Sam Rockwell, use the trails between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., for longer jaunts.

A typical training day begins early, at about 4:30 a.m. The bikers get up and pack, eating on the run. They stop about every hour and a half. Rockwell tries to drink about 6 liters of water, the equivalent of three big soda bottles.

She uses a “camel” — a back-mounted carrier with a straw — so she can ride and sip.

Each day, the group stops to pick up fresh food so they don’t have to carry it with them.

The young woman is taking special care to keep her temperature even, eat well and hydrate.

Rockwell’s group will stay in youth hostels, churches and even some schools along the cross-country trip.

The ride begins in Charleston, S.C., and finishes in San Diego on Aug. 8.

She said she will miss her family, parents and younger brother, Sam.

Rockwell’s next big step will be her senior year at Winchester Thurston. And maybe, Rockwell said, sometime in the future, she will cycle through Europe.

Categories: Local | Fox Chapel
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.