The Bicycle Touring Pro Travel Scholarship – 2013 Finalists

By Darren Alff


2013 marks the fourth year of the Bicycle Touring Pro Travel Scholarship – which was created in order to give small micro-grants to young, first-time bicycle travelers.

As someone who started bicycle touring at the age of 17, with very little money in my bank account, I know that just a small amount of money can go a very long way when put in the right hands… and that is that the BTN Travel Scholarship is all about. Click here to learn more.

Dozens of incredible young people from all around the world applied for this year’s scholarship, but I’ve narrowed down the list of scholarship finalists to the 54 individuals below.

These applicants come from different places all around the world and their travel plans vary greatly, but all of them have one thing in common – the goal of traveling by bike at some point this year.

Be sure to read through the list of finalists below and then come back to on April 12, 2013 to find out which of these individuals has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Bicycle Touring Pro Travel Scholarship.

PLEASE HELP!!! – If you would like to contribute to this year’s Bicycle Touring Pro travel scholarship by making a monetary donation, please click here. Every cent of your donation will go to one or more of the amazing young adventurers you see on this page. The Bicycle Touring Pro Travel Scholarship would not exist if it were not for contributions from readers like you.

Click here to learn more about the BTN travel scholarship, why it was created, and how you can help.

Note: Individuals shown here are listed in no particular order.

Ericc VerranErick Verran – (24 – USA): is planning a European wild-camping bike adventure that will begin in London, England and hopefully go as far as Italy through Scotland, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria on the way.  Erick is looking forward to reconnecting with friends, meeting new people and discovering the outdoors and the lesser-known nooks of Europe.

heather thomsen + sisterJoined by her sister, Heather Thompsen – (USA) is planning a fundraising trip across the USA from Yorktown, VA to San Francisco, CA in efforts to raise $5,000 for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.  Adventure Cycling Association’s maps will help them to navigate across the country as they camp, stay with friends and use the WarmShowers hospitality network. The girls are riding to honor their father who passed away last July due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. 

Jasmine ReeseJasmine Reese (24 – USA) and dog Fiji are heading across the USA this summer, cycling from New York City to San Diego, CA via Virginia and San Francisco, CA.  In a mission to lose weight, get healthy and “be a better person”, it took over 2 years to muster the time, resources and courage for this journey.

ethan and reidEthan Maurice (21 – USA) and brother Reid are gearing up for a cross-country USA ride, estimated at 4,233 miles from the Oregan coast to the Atlantic Ocean in efforts to raise funds for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital where Ethan has previously received life-saving medical attention.  They are excited at the prospect of a self-sustained trip where they’ll rely only on eachother and their own strength to get to their destination.  With an ambitious goal of bringing in $10 for every mile cycled – a total of $42,330USD – 100% of donations received are going towards the cause while the brothers work and save up to pay for trip expenses. 

Andrew JonesAndrew Jones (23 – USA) is quitting the corporate life and opting for adventure and the open skies.  Inspired by meetings with travelers and life-lovers, Andrew plans to cycle from San Francisco, CA to Florida via the northern USA and Canada and along the Atlantic coast.  This 6-month cycling saga will be funded through yard and second-hand sales as Andrew gets rid of his extra and unnecessary “stuff”.
Mariah WilderMariah Wilder (22 – USA) is cycling with her father this summer from the headwaters of the Mississippi river in Minessota to the Gulf of Mexico – a journey of 2,200 miles long that they hope to cover in 40 days.  This fundraiser trip, called TORCH (Touring for ORphans in CHina), hopes to raise $5,000 for orphans in Hope Station in Chengdu, China – a project in which Mariah’s sister is currently involved.

Yu XiaYu Xia – (29 – China), a cardiologist at the Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre is planning a 1-month trip from Chendu, China to Tibet to challenge his own limits and inspire young patients.  It’s a 2,100km (1,304m) trek crossing mountains at up to 5,000m elevation (16,400ft) that will push the cyclist to his physical and mental limits.  Photos and video footage will be used for creating a short documentary film of the trip.
Qingjian ChenQingjian Chen (28 – USA) is cycling from Tibet to Chendu, China during the month of June.  Through photo and video footage Qingjian hopes to inspire more cyclists to visit the holy city of Lhasa while encouraging more women to take up the physical and mental challenges of bicycle touring.

Dino RockAfter nearly 3 years of preperation, Dino Rock (26 – UK) is going to cycle solo across Canada this summer, from Vancouver, B.C. to St. John’s NL, a journey of 7,500km (4,660m).  A fully self-supported trip, Dino hopes to experience for the first time the country where she was born.  This trip is about determination and a message to women to go after their ambitious life plans.

SONY DSCTaylor Cornell (18 – USA) is cutting across North America in her cycling saga from Los Angeles, CA to St. John’s NL in Canada.

Jor-El Zajatzas Jor-El Zajatz (29 – USA) puts it, he plans to “circumnavigate India counterclockwise from Mumbai and visit yoga/meditation ashrams along the way.  What’s the purpose of his ride? “I want to use this trip as a medium for my creativity through the use of photography and painting.”

Erick RomeroErick Romero
(28 – Mexico) plans to cycle the 3,000km (1,864m) from Ensanada (near the US border) to Mexico city and is looking for help financing his first long-distance trip.

Brynn WoodsBrynn Woods
(USA) participated in the AidsLifeCycle tour last year and is eager to try out self-supported bicycle touring this year by cycling from Lake Chelan, WA to San Francisco, CA in August.  Brynn is a triathlete and competed in her first half Ironman this March; her athletic persuits require just as much drive and dedication as being a full-time college student and working 60-hour weeks at a hotel.

Patrick DimpseyPatrick Dimpsey
(21 – USA) will be cycling around Iceland and Northern Europe through Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany this year.  Partnering with his peers at Winona State University in Minnesota, Patrick hopes to raise awareness of Huntington’s Disease through the Camp Earth organisation.  He plans to keep a blog and gather materials for a documentary film that he will present at his University after the trip.

Tomas DelgadoTomas Delgado (27 – USA) “In May of 2013 I plan top tour to Porltand, Oregon from Elgin, Illinois (30miles west of Chicago). Tomas rebuilds and sells used bikes as a side job “The bicycle, to me, is the most ingenious machine ever conjured by man. Its such a liberating, simple, and efficient form of transportation.” 

KaraKara Froese (21 – Canada) is planning a 3-month cycling expedition in New Zealand to take place in early 2014.  Kara feels that a bicycle tour will be the best way to see and experience New Zealand and is currently working as a life guard and saving up for the trip.

Aaron DixonAaron Dixon (25 – Canada) will be cycling and camping his way from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico riding the Pacific Coast Highway for the duration of his trip.  Aaron hopes to turn around the “bike touring is crazy” stigma he’s encountered thus far and help rejuvenate what he views as a lost form of vacationing.

NeillNeil Liddell (29 – South Africa/Taiwan) is cycling between his two homes, from Taipei to CapeTown.  His route will take him through China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Etheopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique… a total of +20,000km (12,427m) and should be completed in a little over 1 year.  A fundraiser ride, and his first bicycle touring adventure, Neil has partnered with NGO Eliv to raise funds for development projects in poor Asian countries like Burma and India.

BenjaminCorwing(flipped)Benjamin Corwin (20 – USA) will be cycling around Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan for 6 weeks in June and July.  Throughout the trip Benjamin is going to film and research the response of rural communities to mobile communications in areas where landlines and Internet have never existed.

Robert Jonesa student of Horticulture, Robert Jones (21 – UK) is finishing his degree in June and plans on selling his car and using the funds to spend a year or more cycling around the UK and going further abroad WWOOFing and learning more about farming.

sam harrisSam Harris (18 – UK) is heading out on a 10,000 mile journey from Somerset to Singapore in support of GlobalGiving.  He’ll cycle southeast through Europe and later through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Burma, (possibly Nepal) and down the border of Thailand into Malaysia to finish in Singapore.  No fixed dates are set for this trip – as soon as he finds the right funding, he’s hittin’ the road!

Alec BernardAlec Bernard (20 – USA) is aiming for a 43 day trip across the USA from ocean to ocean, starting in Connecticut and finishing in California. His group is raising funds for NGO “Citta” who support the poorest in India, Nepal and Mexico.  Alec hopes to give back and answer the call of what he feels are “basic humanitarian responsibilities”

Henry LawrenceHenry Lawrence (16 – USA) aspires to complete a solo cycling trip from Washington, DC to Kagawong, Manitoulin Island in Canada and to get a few other trips “under his belt” before turning 18 (like the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah, VA).  Henry plans to work and save up for his trip, proving to all the naysayers that he’s up to the task.

Micah SewellMicah Sewell (28 – USA) will be reconnecting with his Norwegian family as he cycles from Oslo to Tromso above the Artic Circle in Norway, a coastal route of +2,000km.  “I’ve set a date for quitting my job, leaving my home, and freeing myself to travel by bicycle. I don’t know what the future will bring, and that might be the most exciting part of the whole adventure.”
Adam Franciesrotated+resizedAdam Francies (25 – UK) is planning a trip from Los Angeles to New York over the course of 3-4 months.  Adam will be cycling for a London based charity “The Bike Project” which repairs bikes and makes them safe and accessible to Asylum Seekers.

Nathan GuttierezJonathan Gutierrez (25 – Mexico) is riding from his home country to Venezuela through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.  He’s looking forward to getting away from it all and enjoying the “pureness of the outdoors”

Matteo NorisMatteo Noris (21 – UK) “In May 2013 after my final exams in University, I will be cycling from Manchester (UK) to Genova (Italy), 1800km across Europe and the Alps. I am doing this to raise money for a Guatemalan NGO founded by my grandfather ( My grandpa passed away in December 2012 and I am doing this in his memory.”

Collin DemosCollin Demos (21 – USA) plans to ride from the coast of New Jersey taking the Northern Tier/Great lakes trail west to Washington and down to his destination in Portland, OR. “This journey is one of spontaneity and adventure.” 

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERADean McMenamin (24 – Ireland) ” My plan is to cycle from Ireland to India starting in the first week of April (…) through France into Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran then get a boat to the UAE then cycle over to Oman and then fly from Masqat into Mumbai.  I plan to take 6 months out to do the trip, cycling around 100km per day. I will be doing the trip for two charity organizations Concern Worldwide and Cycle Against Suicide which I hope to raise awareness towards their causes.”

 Joe ClaydenJoe claydon (28 – Ireland) and friends are cycling from Ireland to India via mainland Europe and the Middle East. “We are three friends who have been waiting for an adventure like this for ages; we will be going through countries we have never been to or would never have dreamed of going to.”

LAKE buckley and caitrin hallLake Buckley and Caitrin Hall (22 – USA) will be cycling across their country from NYC to San Francisco in search of female farmers with food and environmental sustainability stories to share. “The Shifting Gears Project layers dialogue, the documentation of alternative food systems, the female perspective, and bicycle transportation as inter-related mechanisms for change towards a more just, peaceful, and compassionate food system.”


Freddie PrendergastFreddi Prendergast (22 – UK) is making his way from England to Athens via France, Switzerland, Italy Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania, a total of approximately 2,200m.  “Most people think I’m mad for doing this trip. They don’t understand that it doesn’t have to be a race. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be expensive.”

gareth harrisonGareth Harrison (21 – Wales, UK) and Kristian Stanton are cycling from Wales to Spain via France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. “We are covering just over 3,000 miles in aid of Cancer Research UK, and aim to raise a minumum of £5,000”

Semih MendaSemih Menda (28 – Turkey) and his wife  are undertaking their first cycling journey with a 22-day trip from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Holland, passing through France, Luxembourg and Belgium on the way.  The young couple has been hosting Couchsurfers in their home in Istanbul and were inspired by a Dutch guest who had cycled all the way from Amsterdam.
Amir GharedaghiAmir Gharedaghi (22 – Iran) wishes to tour his own country and invite the “hospitable people of Iran to cycle and host bicycle tourists.  My main goal is to share my countries tourist attractions, customs and culture to the people of other countries.”  Amir has hosted over 30 bicycle travelers over the years and is continuously inspired by them to take to the road and discover bicycle travel for himself.

William GrothWilliam Groth (20 – USA) is planning a cross-country USA trip on his bicycle which will take him anywhere from 8-10 weeks. “I plan to travel across the United States from east to west using the Transam route and the Western Express route; I’ll switch onto the Western Express route in Pueblo, Colorado.”

David FrederiksenDavid Frederiksen (23 – USA) is “planning a European tour from Spain to Denmark and then Ukraine. I have never been out of the country, and thought what a better graduation gift to myself then a few month trip through Europe.”
ahmet kiran2Ahmet Kiran (23 – Turkey) has set aside April to September for a bike tour… he just needs to decide whether he’ll be biking from Istanbul to Spain or from somewhere in Scandinavia to Spain.  It all depends on where he’ll be able to get his touring bike. “I want to hold an exhibition after my trip especially in my hometown of Mersin and some other small cities in Turkey where no one even thinks of a bicycle as a long-distance a vehicle”.
Reeve RidgewayresizeReeve Ridgeway (26 – USA) is cycling from “Minneapolis to Portland and all the places in between (with my toddler daughter)”.  It’s a journey of about 1,800 miles.
Ryan Roemerfrom his home town of Bend, OR Ryan Roemer (18 – USA) is cycling all the way to North Carolina where he will be going to college.  A bold cycling move – especially courageous considering this will be Ryan’s first time out of state!  He will be riding the TransAmerica trail.
Evan GillhamEvan Gilham (16 – USA) is riding across the USA for the wounded Marines, from Seattle, WA to Virginia.  His group will also be going through parts of Canada as they attend various events in honor of marines and veterans.


Crystal BaeCrystal Bae (24 – USA) is part of a biking duo actually moving from East coast USA to the west coast via bicycle. They are “heading west from Washington, DC across the northern U.S., then south along the coast of California (…) Our route comes out to about 4,900 miles all said. We plan to go at a moderate pace of 60 miles per day, so with rest days our schedule puts us at about 95 days of riding.” 

Shirine TaylorShirine Taylor (20 – USA) “I plan on starting in northern India (Leh), and will make my way through Asia by going through Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Then most likely I will make my way through parts of Borneo and Indonesia, and then on to New Zealand where I will continue to cycle, climb, and live. Before this though, for a month, I will bike from Canada to Mexico, as a “start” to my bike touring.”  Shirine supports her travels through tutoring, nanny work and her photography

Ivana OoiIvana Ooi (25 – Malaysia) “I would like to cycle across France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Nertherland by couch surfing and wild camp (when I am on the way and the sky is going to dark). I wish to enjoy the beautiful scenery along side and exchange culture differences with the local.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith a group of friends, Dakota Hunter (18 – USA) will be riding the “Adventure Cyclists Atlantic Coast from Florida to New Jersey (..) riding for Merlins Kids which is a non profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and trains shelter dogs to become service animals for children with autism and other special needs. From there we would like to continue to Washington DC to spend sometime time there and then on up to Maine.”
James WhiteresizedJames White (16 – UK) and two friends are cycling with a historic and cultural edge this summer. They plan on “cycling down the former ‘Iron Curtain’ in order to compare the differences in the conditions, lifestyle, and environment of habitants living under the influence of Cold War superpowers and in the aftermath of World War Two”. 

Sean TannerSean Tanner (21 – USA) “I will bike from my home in Palmer, Alaska to the campus of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I might stop at a hot spring or two, but I will likely be pressed for time and intend to take the most direct route, camping along the roadside. (…) I am using Virgin Money Giving to raise money for Re-Cycle, a UK-based charity organization committed to improving lives through the provision of cheap, sustainable transport in Africa.”
Sheikh Farhan HummayunSheikh Farhan Hummayun (24 – Pakistan) and his teacher “are planning to go from Kashgar (China) to Islamabad (Pakistan) on our bicycles, total distance is 1300kms, 450kms in china and the rest of 850kms in Pakistan. We are planning to leave on 1st June 2013 and will be back my 30th June 2013. We will be moving with the slogan of Global Peace, promoting Pak-China Friendship and (raising awareness of) some Political instability in Pakistan.”
nia thomasNia Thomas (24 – UK) will be biking in Bolivia with cycling partner Sara. “We will carry out a weeks field work around Lake Titicaca before setting off on our bikes to travel round the country and then follow the Andes north through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, Central America and the USA. Along the way we hope to partake in bits of field and conservation work. We both are passionate about conservation, sustainability and education.”
Kareem Fakhfakh2Kareem Fakhfakh (23 – Canada) is making his way across Canada from the most eastern tip in Cape Spear, Newfoundland to the West Coast. “I am privileged to work at a bike shop selling touring bikes alongside other genres and I always return to its utilitarian nature. The touring bike is accessible, unpretentious, strong and reliable reflecting admirable traits in good men and women.”

Jeanne RobertsJeanne Roberts (25 – USA) suffered a nearly fatal surfing accident last year when her femoral artery was slashed while out in the ocean.  Grateful to be alive, Jeanne is making a fast recovery and is cycling across the USA, from Georgetown D.C. to Seaside, OR as a victory lap and celebration of a full recovery.  She will be accompanied by her boyfriend and best friend during the two month, 3,917m journey.

nathan madyarNathan Magyar (23 – USA) “This summer, to celebrate college graduation and raise money for a local non-profit, I plan to bike from Yorktown, Virginia to Florence, OR along the TransAmerica Trail!. Over the course of 3 months, starting in May 2013, I will bike 4,233 miles across 10 states. It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime! I can’t wait to tour the country with the wind in my face and my derriere in the saddle!”

Eunjey ChoEunjey Cho (25 – USA) is going cross-country USA from west coast to east. “Along our way, we plan on stopping at local social services agencies that serve folks who are living in poverty. Currently, all of us are spending a year of service through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest program, volunteering full-time for those living on the margins of society.” There are 5 courageous cyclists partaking in this adventure: Heather Hanson, John McGuin, April Sugimoto, Clare Garvey, and Eunjey Cho
Milan LisicaMilan Lisica (Serbia and Montenegro) “I am cyclist, journalist and documentary filmmaker and in mid June I am planning to go on a bike trip from Portugal to Serbia. For a long time I have an idea to make a documentary about people who are passionate about cycling and who have done something on what they are proud of.” Milan is looking through inspiring cyclists as he cycles roughly 3,600km in Europe through Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

If you would like to make a donation to this year’s BTN Travel Scholarship, please visit this page. A donation of any size (no matter how small) is greatly appreciated!

Click here to donate!

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  1. Jasmine Reese

    March 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Yay! Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity. I’m sharing this everywhere!

  2. Angelo L. Coletta

    March 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Darren-Its a good thing that you do this. However, I must conserve my funds for my own European odyssey. Angelo

  3. Jammie

    March 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    When I looked at the hope and smile on the faces of these young people, I am feel with emotions. I wish I came to know about biking earlier in my life but it’s never too late to do it. Thanks Darren for giving them an opportunity to be out there and do big things in their life.

  4. Tomas

    March 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

    This is great. I really appreciate the opportunity. Best of luck to all the finalists!

  5. Hunter

    March 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    How I wish I can join you guys. Am happy and proud of you all. Great and happy riding.

  6. Jasmine Reese

    April 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve already planned my route! I am so excited! I really hope I get this scholarship, but I am going whether I win or not. We’ll have to improvise with the resources we have. I can’t wait to hit the road.
    🙂 I’ll bet all the finalists are super-excited about their own journeys. I wish you all great success!

  7. Jasmine Reese

    April 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

    By the way, I gave up my car today. Left it in front of the bank with a surrender note. This is real! I’ve lost a total of 14 pounds, and I’m hitting the road April 19, 2013. Ahhhh!!! I can’t contain the adrenalin. See y’all on the road!

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