It was a ride of a lifetime. Three men set off at the beginning of the summer to ride their bicycles across the country to raise money to build a well in the small African village of Marale.
Three thousand miles and three months later, Huntington University alumnus Matt Friedlund, along with his younger brother, Andy, and friend, Morgan Jones, both students at Albright College in Reading, Pa., arrived on the West Coast having raised $13,000 for not one, but three villages.
“I didn’t quite expect to raise as much money as we did. I’ve been pretty amazed at the generosity of others along the way,” Matt said.
The trip, dubbed the “Ride for Marale,” was Andy’s idea. He approached Food for the Hungry, an international relief organization, in an effort to help those in need. The cross-country trip grew from there.
The amazing — and sometimes terrifying — trip took them from the East Coast, through the Midwest and the Great Plains, into the mountains and finally to the West Coast where they completed their journey.
“I hadn’t shared life with anyone else that closely before. I’m generally a pretty independent person. I’d never had to eat when someone else wanted to eat or sleep when someone else wanted to sleep before,” Andy said. “I learned a lot about what it means to compromise and what it means to consider other people.”
The three took turns blogging about their experiences at www.ridemarale.blogspot.com
. They told of meeting other riders who were also doing cross-country journeys; they detailed their encounters with the local folk (including an Ohio man named Sam who taught them how to throw Tomahawks); and they shared pictures and videos of places such as Mount Rushmore, Grand Teton National Park and even a forest fire out west.
“I kind of went into (the trip) with the idea that I was going to see America and that we were going to do as much as we could to raise money for people in Marale and such, and we did that,” Andy said.
Their trip ended at the end of August with a plane ticket back to Pennsylvania. Andy and Morgan are now back at school, and Matt is making plans for his future.
“And so the journey ends,” the final Ride of Marale blog post reads. “It’s back to the Americans on the other side of the country — only it’ll just take a few hours this time.”