Teenagers Arvind Mahesh and Chris Chan, friends since third grade, will ride 850 miles to raise money for and promote awareness about cancer research.
Arvind, 16, and Chris, 15, who plan to attend American High School in Fremont this fall, were to begin their ride from Astoria, Oregon, to San Francisco July 11.
The two expect their journey to take 90 hours spread over two weeks. For now, they are about $250 short of the $10,000 they hope to donate to the National Foundation for Cancer Research.
"We chose the route because it is a popular bike route and also safe," said Arvind, who lived in Astoria when he was a toddler. Chris's father, Harvey Chan, died May 9 of sarcoma, a cancer that develops in connective tissue. He was 47. His death came after a long battle with the disease.
"It started in 2000 and he suffered for 10 years," Chris said. He was surfing the Web in September 2009 when he read an article about a 13-year-old girl who went on a bike ride to raise money for diabetes research. He knew he wanted to take a bike ride of his own, but didn't know what he wanted to ride for.
"I kept thinking about a cause. Should it be the environment?" Chris said. But as his father endured his final battle with cancer, the cause became clear. It was easy for Chris to convince Arvind to make the journey. Then Arvind had to get his parents' approval. "My mom is supportive. But my dad is worried whether I am capable of riding so far," Arvind said. "He asked me, 'Can you do it?' I said I can," Arvind said.
So his father gave his blessing but will teak up with his uncle to follow Arvind all the way. Arvind and Chris have been training for five to seven hours each day. "We talk more about supplies and training," Arvind said. "It is in our head what we are going to do, how to manage our trip."
They bought new bicycles and received sponsorship from Clif Bar & Company. "Now we do not have to spend much on food," Arvind said.
Through the ride, Chris said, he hopes to raise money that can go toward additional research on sarcoma. "There is not really much research going on right now," he said.
As Chris watched his father fight cancer and undergo surgery, Arvind saw his closest friend suffer the impact. "Chris is like a brother to me," said Arvind, who was 11 months old when he moved to the United States from India with his parents.
"We are really close and we have been friends for long. It had affected my family too."