Slippery Rock senior Robbie Bailey relishes experience cycling across country
Mt. Pleasant graduate Robbie Bailey will complete a cross-country cycling trip Saturday that had a purpose.
Bailey, 21, a rising senior at Slippery Rock, participated in the Journey of Hope-Ability Experience event on its TransAmerica Route.
Sponsored by the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, the event raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.
Cyclists will have pedaled 4,350 miles in 67 days, starting in June near Seattle and ending in Washington, D.C. They will have covered 13 states.
It is Bailey’s first cycling event.
“I’ve played soccer my entire life,” Bailey said. “I spent a lot of time on trainers in the gym during the winter months.
“As soon as the weather warmed up, I tried to get as much time on the bike as possible. There really is no way to prepare fully to ride over 4,000 miles over two months.”
Applicants must be an associate, active or alumni member of Pi Kappa Phi. Undergraduates must be in good standing with their chapter and have a cumulative or previous GPA of 2.7 or higher.
Consideration is given to those who have held positions demonstrating leadership potential, contributed to their community and are able to commit. Journey of Hope consists of three separate routes.
A minimum pledge of $6,000 is required.
Bailey, who is studying accounting, said being away from home was the hardest part.
“I miss my family and my girlfriend, but I’ve found 28 guys (who) are now my best friends,” Bailey said. “The feeling of freedom you get on the bike (is my favorite part).
“We get to take in these breathtaking views on our way to friendship visits, where we spend time with those individuals with disabilities.”
Bailey said he does anything from having a meal with them, to crafts, yard games and full-on dance parties.
Bailey, who is keeping a journal, said his favorite state has been Colorado. His favorite rides have been up and down the hills east of the Mississippi River.
His least favorite leg was the first few days in Kansas.
“We stay anywhere from high school gyms to churches,” Bailey said. “Anywhere a sponsor is generous enough to host us for the night.”
Bailey, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, said he would love to do the Gear Up Florida-Ability Experience, a two-week, 800-mile cycling event that crosses the Sunshine State, or another challenge event in the years ahead.
Jayne Piskorik, the assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Organizations at Slippery Rock, said it is uncommon for students at the school to apply for the Journey of Hope. She expects the trip to transform Bailey’s outlook.
“It’s astounding that he was accepted and decided to dedicate his summer to service and his fraternity,” Piskorik said. “I’m very proud of Robbie’s accomplishment and couldn’t be more excited to hear about his experience.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.