Cyclists cross nation for alternative schools

REAL Ride cyclists who stopped in Marysville recently are, from left, Cris Rothfuss, Jay Vasconcellos, Perri Mertens, Erin Abrahams and Dan St. Croix. Photo by Sarah Kessinger

By Sarah Kessinger | Marysville Advocate

Five bicycle riders from Boston stopped in Marysville to tent camp in City Park Sept. 12 along their coast-to-coast ride to benefit five alternative high schools in large cities along their route.

“It’s beautiful,” said Cris Rothfuss, an attorney at Harvard University who said they were spending this leg of their trip riding gravel roads along the National Pony Express Trail. “We just dropped into Kansas today. We’ve really enjoyed the route.”

So far, they’d raised nearly $50,000 for their fundraiser, the Real Ride. They’re logging the journey at their blog,, where people can donate to their cause of helping at-risk students.

“It’s making a little bit of a difference for these schools,” Rothfuss said.

The cyclists have the added benefit of meeting new people, she said, and learning more about the country.

Their trip started when they flew to Seattle and on Aug. 1 began to ride east after an event at a partner high school there. In Denver they had another event at a partner school. They were on day 41 of their journey while here and planned to stop at the three other schools they are raising funds for in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Boston.

In the meantime, they are traversing the nation’s heartland, learning history as they go. Their ride into Marysville was on the National Pony Express Trail, a route that works well with the plan to ride mostly on gravel roads.

The five men and women are professionals who took time off from work to carry out their cause, planned over 18 prior months. They’ve found corporate sponsors, Rothfuss said, but have also received donations in small amounts, “which have added up in a meaningful way.”

Also on the Real Ride are Perri Mertens, a marketing executive; Erin Abrahams, veterinarian; Jay Vasconcellos, skateboard shop owner; and Dan St. Croix, visual display artist.

The group rides an average of 65 miles a day on gravel, resting every 10th day. Some days they ride up to 100.

“I feel fortunate to have a group to do this with,” Rothfuss said.

People are welcome to visit their website and learn more about their trip and donate to the cause.

This article was published in the Marysville Advocate on September 21, 2017. Click here to see the online version