Last summer, three local students hatched a plan to go on a bicycling adventure across the United States to raise money and awareness for a planned homeless services center at 40 Prado Road in San Luis Obispo.
One of the three, soon-to-be Cal Poly graduate Sean Day, had just finished hiking the John Muir Trail when he told his buddy, recent Cuesta College graduate Tim Schoepp, that the hike probably would be “the coolest thing I’ll ever do in my life.”
Instead, the pair decided to outdo Day’s trek with a 4,228-mile bike ride from Oregon to Virginia and invited their bike mechanic friend Jack Bowen, who graduated from Cal Poly last year.
The journey will follow the Trans-America Trail.
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They plan to leave in mid-June after Day’s graduation from Cal Poly as a mechanical engineering major. They’ve set a goal of raising $4,228, representing the total mileage of their journey. So far, they’ve raised about $2,300 using an app that allows people to donate online.
“Because we were doing such a big trip on such a big scale, we decided to raise money for a charity,” Schoepp said. “We looked at various causes and felt like people our age aren’t aware enough of the homeless in the community and don’t help as much compared with some other causes they might get involved with.”
One hundred percent of the donations will go to the homeless center.
Tim Schoepp, cyclist and donor to 40 Prado homeless services center
All of the proceeds will go the 40 Prado Road center, which will consolidate homeless services in San Luis Obispo and double the number of beds available in the city, replacing the Prado Day Center and the 49-bed Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter.
The total cost of the center is about $5.4 million. Plans include a single-story building with a kitchen, laundry facilities, showers, lockers and storage, a classroom for children and community rooms.
At any given time, about 1,500 homeless people live in San Luis Obispo County, according to the 40 Prado website.
An anonymous donor recently provided an unexpected $250,000 toward the future 40 Prado homeless center and challenged the community to match that amount. The three students are offering their contributions toward that goal.
“All of the expenses, like the gear and food and any hotel costs, we’re paying for ourselves,” said Schoepp, who will attend UC Berkeley as a communications major in the fall. “One hundred percent of the donations will go to the homeless center.”
The friends plan to bike about 60 miles per day, camping along the road, treating themselves to a hotel or connecting with hosts on websites such as www.couchsurfing.com or www.warmshowers.org, a hospitality resource specifically for cyclists.
The route will take them through a variety of landscapes, including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, the flat plains of Kansas and the Appalachian Mountains.
Homelessness becomes a difficult thing if it’s illegal to be homeless. How do you overcome that?
Jack Bowen, cyclist and donor to 40 Prado homeless services center
They expect to face challenges, including a 70-mile incline heading into Colorado. And the heat could be “sweltering” out of the Rockies.
“We’re not going to travel at the hottest times,” Bowen said. “We’ll head out in the early morning and late in the afternoon and take breaks in the middle of the day.”
The trip is expected to take about three months.
Schoepp said they’ve received good feedback from coordinators of the 40 Prado Road project. Bowen, who has been living in Utah since his Cal Poly graduation, said he knew a woman who was living out of her tent near Broad Street. She frequently was ticketed for illegal camping.
“Homelessness becomes a difficult thing if it’s illegal to be homeless,” Bowen said. “How do you overcome that?”
To make a donation, go to https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/bike40prado.