May 16, 2011

Riding for a cause

Caitlin Skufca raising awareness about affordable housing

PLATTSBURGH — Caitlin Skufca wasn't sure what to do over the summer.

Compete in the grueling Ironman Lake Placid?

Did that last year.

Just relax?

Not a chance.

Then she came up with the idea of biking across the country.

"I wanted to do something new," the Wilmington native said. "I also wanted to see the country."

She just had to figure out how to make her idea happen.

Skufca entered the 2010 Ironman with her dad, Bill, but he nixed the idea of a father-daughter cross-country ride. Not to be discouraged, she turned to the Internet.

"I wanted to do it with anyone who would go," Skufca said.

What she found was a group of people who would go and also support a cause along the way.

Skufca and 33 others are set to ride 3,778 miles in a little over two months for Bike and Build, a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for affordable housing. They'll leave Portsmouth, N.H., June 22 and pedal across the northern U.S., finishing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Aug. 27.

Unlike in an Ironman, there will be breaks. But Skufca expects riding day after day to be even more challenging than pushing herself for 13 consecutive hours in the triathlon.

"I think it will be tougher to be on the bike every day," the Lake Placid High School graduate said. "I know last year, I'd go out for Ironman training and sometimes I'd think, 'Ugh, I don't want to ride today,' so I'd turn around and go home.

"But from what I hear, it's all about who you're with. Everybody keeps you motivated. And you're riding for a cause, so that helps."

Bike and Build organizes rides through different parts of the country for young adults ages 18-25. Every rider must raise $4,000 to participate. Throughout the trip, they learn about affordable housing and decide which projects to award grants to.

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