Trio raises aware­ness of eat­ing dis­or­ders on epic ride across U.S.

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Chris Eckard

With an im­pend­ing grad­u­a­tion and no job lined up, John Wind­sor sat in his apart­ment at St. Mary’s Col­lege and lis­tened to his old high school friend pitch him an idea of trav­el­ing across the coun­try on a bike.

Hours later that Jan­uary night, Wind­sor and Jonathan Zorn, who were class­mates at St. Paul’s School, were al­ready plan­ning out their jour­ney on a large map of the coun­try — a trip that would take them from the wooded coast­line of Ore­gon, through the flat Midwest and all the way to the rolling hills of Vir­ginia.

The pair had never been on a bike trip longer than three days. Still, with a love of the out­doors — and no job lined up af­ter school — Wind­sor needed lit­tle con­vinc­ing.

They were joined by Raphael Mc­gowan, a 28-year-old from Aus­tralia who Zorn met while study­ing abroad, and on July 23 the trio em­barked on a 4,500 mile cross-coun­try trip that lasted un­til Oct. 8.

“There is noth­ing out there but wilder­ness for miles and miles,” Wind­sor said. “It’s a nice feel­ing that just gives you a peace of mind.”

But the trip wasn’t just for plea­sure. Wind­sor, who had fam­ily mem­bers strug­gle with eat­ing dis­or­ders over the past year, de­cided to use the trip to raise aware­ness for the Johns Hop­kins Eat­ing Dis­or­ders Pro­gram.

By send­ing out sup­port let­ters, con­tact­ing friends through Face­book and cre­at­ing a blog about his trip, Wind­sor raised more than $10,000 for the pro­gram, which will go to­ward re­search and pa­tient anal­y­sis.

The jour­ney also helped raise sup­port for a group Mc­gowan knew in Aus­tralia called beyond­blue, which helps peo­ple bat­tling de­pres­sion.

“I knew I wanted to do it for a cause,” Wind­sor said. “The money I’m rais­ing is great, but the aware­ness I’m rais­ing is just huge. I don’t know why, but it’s an is­sue that’s just swept un­der the car­pet. It’s an is­sue that needs to be solved.”

The bi­cy­clists started pre­par­ing in the spring by train­ing, speak­ing with ex­perts and lo­cal bike shops, and re­search­ing bike main­te­nance.

They de­cided to take the Tran­sAmer­i­can Trail, a path cre­ated by the Ad­ven­ture Cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion. The 4,262-mile route starts in As­to­ria, Ore., and ends in York­town, Va. The group al­tered the plan by tak­ing a few de­tours — such as vis­it­ing St. Louis — and they ul­ti­mately rode all the way to Vir­ginia Beach to lit­er­ally go from coast to coast.

Af­ter a few weeks of train­ing, the three flew out to Ore­gon in late July. Us­ing racks at­tached to their bikes, they each packed a tent, sleep­ing bag, sleep­ing pad, one clean

John Wind­sor, left, and Jonathan Zorn launch their cross-coun­try trip at the edge of the Pa­cific Ocean. Above left, Raphael Mc­gowan, left, Zorn and Wind­sor take a break from bik­ing.

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