Last month, Henrico cyclist Dan Schmitt returned to Virginia after completing the Kon-Tiki Challenge, a cross-country ride of 4,800 miles from Washington to Maine and then to Massachusetts to raise money for a local nonprofit. His journey benefited Sportable, an organization that provides athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments access to competitive and recreational sports.
“I feel so lucky and grateful to have had such an incredible journey across the country on my bike,” Schmitt said in a press release. “The places and landscapes I have seen were amazing, but it was the goodness and kindness of people along the way that made the deepest impression on me. And for so many, to support Sportable and adaptive athletes in Richmond and surpassing our huge goal makes it that much more fulfilling.”
The trip was an unsupported bikepacking journey of 72 days that took Schmitt across 12 states and Canada while offering views of the Midwest, the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and more. The cyclists told WTVR that he began his journey on May 21, 2022 in Washington while there was still snow on the ground and that he typically rode for six to seven hours a day, averaging 75-85 miles.
“Riding almost every day for three months, carrying all his [Schmitt’s] gear, traveling thousands of miles under his own power, and climbing over 174,000 feet—is hard to fathom,” Sportable’s executive director, Hunter Leemon, said in a press release. “To make Sportable the beneficiary of his efforts is extraordinary and we are truly grateful.”
When Schmitt first set out, he was expected to ride 4,500 miles from Washington to Maine and had a fundraising goal of $100,000. But after meeting many supporters along the way and adding an extra stop at the factory where his bike was made in Boston, Ma., the Virginia cyclist finished at 4,800 miles with over $116,110 donated to the cause.
“We are blown away by the generous support of our community who rallied together to help us reach an unbelievable fundraising goal,” Leemon said. “Thanks to numerous individual donations, we were able to unlock the $10,000 matching challenge issued by Commonwealth Payroll and signed on HHHunt as a presenting sponsor to get us over the finish line. Opportunities will be created and lives will be transformed thanks to this incredible accomplishment.”
Schmitt is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a reception in his honor on Thursday, October 6 that will take place at the Virginia War Memorial. People can get involved by donating to Sportable, signing up for the Kon-Tiki 2-Miler, and by following Schmitt’s journey on Instagram @KonTikiC2C.
Cover photo courtesy of a press release from Sportable.