Justin Rice and Isaac Sullivan stand with their touring bicycles on the banks of the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River on June 9, 2020. They cycled across Wyoming this week as part of a ride across America to raise money for charities. (Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile)

With a global pandemic disrupting all aspects of life and protests erupting in cities and towns in every U.S. state, it might not seem like an obvious time to bike across America. 

But that’s what lifelong friends Isaac Sullivan and Justin Rice set out to do when they began pedaling from Tillamook, Oregon, on May 13. The men, both 25, are traversing the United States on two wheels while raising money for charities. Sullivan, who served in the military, is raising money for the Night Stalker Foundation. Rice, who was raised by a single mother, is fundraising for Warrick Dunn Charities.

The pair passed through Wyoming this week, visiting Old Faithful, camping near Lander and pedaling through the sagelands of the southern part of the state. 

They started planning their trip before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S., and say the pandemic has made some aspects of travel tricky. They couldn’t find open hotel rooms when they began, for example. But it has also brought benefits — parks and campgrounds are less crowded. 

The men say they’ve only encountered warmth and openness. Strangers have given them meals, opened their homes and gone out of their way to support them. 

“Everybody’s been loving, everybody’s been caring,” Sullivan said. “They want to help. It’s been a great experience.”

Sullivan said the slower pace of life, time spent outdoors and exploration of small American towns they’d never heard of has been eye-opening. 

Just weeks after they started, protests began unfolding across the U.S. in response to the police killing of George Floyd, sparking a national conversation about racial justice, police reform and racism in America. 

Rice said the protests have given new purpose to the ride. That is to expose other African Americans to the idea of not being afraid of going into areas of the country they’ve never been, he said — “To go out and be adventurous, to go outdoors.”

Rice feels that the situation has led to “a lot more compassion,” he said. “A lot more hearts are open right now to receiving and giving.”

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Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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  1. A terrific story about a couple of great young Americans. Gratified to hear they were well received and felt the love here in WYO. Keep up the good work, WyoFile.

  2. I’ve been using my CARES Act money to donate to various charities, and now I have two more to add to the list. Thanks for the inspiring story.

  3. I’m jealous! If only I could get away and do something adventurous like that. I’m 60 and time marches on.

  4. Wishing Justin and Isaac all the best on their journey with many happy memories remaining when they’ve completed it. They’re doing something that I (along with hundreds, if not thousands, of other Americans) have always wanted to do, except I wanted to do it on four legs; riding my horse, accompanied by my dog, of course. This idea struck me during my teens and has persisted lifelong while the realities of making a living, buying a house, and finding a lifemate, all took precedent. Now, upon approaching 73 and with a lifemate who can no longer ride (I did offer him a ride along in a cart, but he declined, not being the adventurous sort and very much loving his comforts), it looks as though my dream may have slipped by. That’s one of the reasons it always pleases me so greatly to see others, like Justin and Isaac going after their dream. All of my very best well wishes are going with them, and I hope they won’t mind if I live a little vicariously through them.

  5. Thanks Katie for the good news story of cycle tourists & Wyoming hospitality. As a long time cyclist & tourer I have not always experienced “love” from other road & trail users in WYO & elsewhere in the USA. Good luck to the intrepid young wheelmen!