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UA grad, former Wilbur completes cross-country bike ride for charity

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Darien Bakas and Darien Bakas | The Daily Wildcat Joe Previte stands as Wilbur with his bike in McKale Center on Thursday, April 21.

Recent UA grad and former Wilbur the Wildcat mascot, Joe Previte, completed a 2,700-mile[1] bike ride across the U.S. on Sunday, exactly 75 days after he set out.

From Camden, Maine to Seattle, then Seattle to San Diego, Previte and his childhood friend, Jordan Mishlove, biked with the goal of raising money for Outdoor Outreach, a San Diego-based nonprofit that works to “connect underserved and at-risk teens to the transformative power of the outdoors,” according to the charity’s website.

Previte is still waiting to hear back on the exact total amount raised over the course of the trip, but the last estimate he received on Wednesday was close to $2,000.

Related: UA student, former Wilbur to embark on cross-country bike race for charity. 

According to Previte’s estimations, half of the donations are from friends and family, while the other half is from people the duo met during their travels.

For Previte, the best parts of the journey were his interactions with complete strangers, and he had plenty of those.

“Fifty percent of the time we would wake up, we would get to our destination where we wanted to end that day’s ride and then we’d go in a residential area, look for a house with a patch of grass [and] we’d knock on the door and ask if we could pitch our tent there,” Previte said. “Some people would invite us in for a shower, some would offer us meals.”

Private said one of the coolest people he met on the road he found through an app the two sometimes used called Warm Showers, which connects touring cyclists to free lodging.

The app got Previte and Mishlove in contact with Neil Branson, a man in Seaside, Oregon so well-known for his hospitality that he’s been written about by Outdoors NW Magazine. The man had almost 100 reviews written about him on Warm Showers, and when they got to his home the two bikers found that his door is always unlocked.

Inside the kitchen, they found a journal filled with thank you notes written by those who had stayed there. Late that night, Previte and Mishlove got the chance to meet Branson, who they found out was a former Wildcat.

“Coolest thing ever,” Previte said, “The coolest person I met on the road is a fellow Wildcat.”

Previte and Mishlove found a lot of good headed their way, and on a trip full of simple acts of kindness, one thing always led to another.

“You read a lot in the news about murders and deaths and rapes and all this negative stuff, and I mean, obviously to some extent it’s true,” Previte said, “But when you go out there and you talk to strangers or go knocking on their doors asking if [you] could camp in their yard, I learned that there are a lot of really kind people out there.”

He recounted the time a man offered him and Mishlove cold beers at the top of a long, tedious mountain pass. This inspired Previte and Mishlove to take cold beers out on the road at a later destination to hand out to bikers.

One woman they shared a beer with ended up donating $350[2] to their cause.

On a trip that seemed at once physically and logistically daunting, Previte said the hardest part was the mental aspect.

“If you look at it big picture, it almost seems impossible,” He said. “But when you take it step-by-step and you plan it out, that’s how you really overcome the challenge of such a great feat.”

Within 12 days, Previte said his body had become accustomed to the large mileage, so much so that riding began to feel “like a nine-to-five job.”

Previte’s favorite spots on the trip were the Oregon coast, Big Sur and Northern California’s 31-mile stretch of redwood trees called the Avenue of Giants.

“I would say the Oregon Coast is definitely underrated,” Previte said. “I still don’t think it gets as much publicity as it should.”

Previte is now starting a master’s program in Italian linguistics and literature at Long Beach State with the goal of one day becoming a professor. He said he would love to teach at the UA.

While he goes to school, his friend Mishlove will work for The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. The two said they are already starting to plan their next big adventure.


Corrections: 

[1]: The story originally said that Previte and Mishlove had biked 7,700-miles.

[2]: The woman gave Previte and Mishlove $350, not $500.


Follow Michelle Jaquette on Twitter.



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