On a sweltering Thursday in July, Horace Greeley ’10 grad James Rosenberg missed a phone call from a reporter.
“I ended yesterday in Hell’s Canyon,” he explained later. “They say it’s named that due to the heat but I suspect it’s due to lack of cell signal.” Ultimately though, Rosenberg proved pretty reachable for a guy on the last two weeks of a cross-country bike trip.
Rosenberg was close to achieving his goals: the completion of a ride from Yorktown, VA to Astoria, OR and his fundraising aim of $20,000 to benefit Ethiopian women in the community of Kore, Ethiopia, through a charity called ‘I Pour Life.’ Kore is a community located on a garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa and has 100,000 residents. Many of these marginalized residents are widows, orphans and HIV/AIDS victims.
A Novice Biker
After attending Emory University in Georgia and working in corporate strategy first for Dollar Tree and then, back in New York, for JP Morgan, Rosenberg decided to get his MBA. “About two to two-and-a-half years ago I started the process of applying to business school and to keep myself sane, I planned a big trip,” Rosenberg said. He cast about for ideas and just kept coming back to consider a bike trip. “I was not a bike rider–I had to buy the bike to do this,” he added.
So Rosenberg began talking to friends about it and was put in touch with a friend’s cousin who had done an earlier ride to benefit the women of Kore. The idea felt right. “To me, it made a lot of sense to do the Ride for Kore,” Rosenberg said. ‘The Ride for Kore’ helps set up individual Ethiopian women with the security, training and financing they need to start small businesses and be self-supporting. The business-training aspect particularly resonated with Rosenberg as he headed toward business school. “It was such a perfect parallel for me I knew I had to do it,” he said.
The Training Process
In March of 2017 Rosenberg bought the bike and began to train in his New York City apartment for an hour each morning. “I was more or less sitting on my bike watching Netflix,” he said.
His upbringing in Chappaqua had prepared him to take on a long ride. “Chappaqua is definitely a town where endurance sports are big–at least they were in my life,” Rosenberg said. “I was a cross-country runner in high school so I definitely thought it’s not how fast you go as much as how long you go.”
On April 29 of this year Rosenberg began his journey. Unlike most road bikers in our area, his bike is laden with four panniers (“they’re basically saddlebags like a motorcyclist or a horseback rider would have,” he said), a sleeping mat, a tent and a place to view maps up front. That’s how he navigates–with maps provided by the Adventure Cycling Association. He pitches his tent in parks where allowed, or in other more rustic locations, and occasionally sleeps in the basements of certain churches that are open to all.
Enjoying the Ride
Rosenberg generally rides six to seven hours a day. “It sounds a bit boring but it’s incredible. You are powering yourself so every inch you go is up to you. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy each ride,” he said. “I thought that what would get me through would be music or podcasts but mostly I just listen to the sounds of nature.” When he does turn to technology for a little entertainment, Rosenberg’s favorites include NPR, classic rock and Jack Reacher novels.
Besides the ride, Rosenberg also said he enjoyed meeting so many friendly people from all across the land. “I have become such a big fan of this country, not that I wasn’t before,” he said. “Once you get out here everyone is incredibly friendly and so many people have gone out of their way to help me” with advice, dinners and even places to stay. “I’m very thankful,” Rosenberg added.
But while he’s enjoyed seeing the country, Rosenberg is clear about the main benefit of his voyage. “This ride is for Kore,” he said. “That’s the stated mission.” Rosenberg will be accepting donations at rideforkore.com for a while following the completion of his journey, which is scheduled to end on or around July 27. At press time, he had raised more than $15,000 toward his goal.