Oct 2, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterWhen Stephanie Solverson pedaled her bike into Riverton on Thursday, Sept. 27, she was already two weeks into a months-long trip from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, back to her home on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua.
The 23-year-old Calgary native has pledged to ride her bike roughly 4,300 miles to raise money for a community learning center being built on Little Corn Island by the nonprofit organization Common Threadz. Solverson said volunteers had completed the foundation for the center a year ago when funding ran out.
"I'm not really a member of Common Threadz or anything, I've just seen the building, and I've been there since they started it," said Solverson, who has worked for the past three years as a scuba-diving instructor on Little Corn Island. "I know the island and the people really well, and this is something that could benefit them a lot. So I just decided to work with them to get it up and running."
The idea to raise money by biking did not come naturally: When she began her journey Sept. 12, Solverson said she hadn't been on a bike since she was 10 years old.
"It took a bit of time to get used to the weight," Solverson said, pointing to the 115-pound pack that holds her food, shelter and other supplies on the back of her Brodie touring bike.
She has documented her experience on her website, stephgoescyclingforacause.blogspot.com, where she talked about her "love/hate" relationship with Wyoming. She lost her sleeping bag on Togwotee Pass and got a flat tire when she camped at Pilot Butte Reservoir. But Solverson had nothing but good things to say about the people she encountered and sights she experienced in Fremont County.
"I met the most amazing people in Dubois," Solverson said. "A church paid for me to stay the night in a hotel, and when I went into the outdoor store, the father of one of the churches ended up buying my sleeping bag and a few other little things."
On her blog, she specifically thanks Fr. Eckley Macklin of Our Lady of the Woods Mission before she describes her seven-hour ride from Dubois to Pilot Butte.
"For the first few hours of riding I was surrounded by landscape of a type of beauty I have personally never experienced before," she writes, referring to the terrain south of Dubois. "A badland area, with massive red rocky hills and cliffs. (I half expected that if I were to see any wildlife, it would be dinosaurs!)"
From Riverton, Solverson said she would head east toward flatter land, after she spent the first two weeks of her adventure climbing and descending the mountains of Canada, Montana and Wyoming.
"I'm on a bit of a time budget since I'm trying to get to Nicaragua by Christmas," Solverson said, explaining that scuba-diving season starts up again in January.
She hopes to have raised $8,000 by the time she reaches Bluefields, Nicaragua, and hops onto a ferry bound for Little Corn Island. When she arrived in Riverton, she said she already had made $1,200 for the center that she would like to see completed.
"It will be a community learning center for all ages," Solverson said. "It's going to have computers for use and a vocational library, and they'll teach some Spanish and English classes."
Anyone interested in donating can do so at Common
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