San Marcos Couple Bikes Across Country

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By Megan Carthel

After her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie Swallow decided to hit the road—all 2,000 miles of it.

Matt and Julie Swallows plan to bike the 2,000 miles in 50 days during August. The two Texas State students will bike from the Canadian to the Mexican border for cancer research.

“Really, we basically were like, ‘Hey, want to bike across America?’ and it just grew from there,” Matt said.

The Swallows hope to raise $25,000—an attainable goal, they say, if 2,000 people each sponsor one mile for $12.50.

A certified lymphedema therapist, Julie Swallow, spoke to her patients and aunt about what organization to donate their money to. Julie Swallow said many of her patients wanted the money to go to Susan G. Komen for cancer research.

The couple will give their money to Susan G. Komen through the Austin affiliate.

Julie Swallow said a close friend of hers recently dies from liver cancer and a family friend was diagnosed with bone cancer. Julie Swallow said advancement in any type of cancer brings hope to her and her patients.

The couple will bike 50 to 60 miles a day and rest at campsites.

The Swallows will be taking their four-year old miniature pincher-poodle, Jet. Matt will bike while pulling Jet in a doggy trailer.

To prepare for their journey, the couple has been on strict budget and riding their bikes as much as possible. Julie Swallow said they only have $33 of “fun money.”

The Swallows will be biking through California and Washington, something Julie Swallow is looking forward to.

“Matt is from Washington state and I’ve never been in the pacific coast and just getting in that water and seeing the coast,” Julie Swallow said.

Matt and Julie Swallow originally planned to bike from Washington to Maine or along the Rocky Mountains. They decided on their final route due to temperatures, little incline and the little possibility of furry foes.

“There’s no bears,” Julie Swallow said. “Well I guess there could be bears.”

“There’s not as many bears,” Matt Swallow said.

Matt said he is excited about seeing the Red Wood forest in California.

Only knowing how to fix the basics of a bike, the couple fears tragic technical difficulties or emotional difficulties. The Swallows will not have a van following them like many bikers do on long tours.

“I’m just such a big baby when it comes to safety,” Julie Swallow said

“As long as we both don’t like break down on the same day we’ll be alright,” Matt Swallow said.

“And by break down he means emotionally,” Julie Swallow said.

Matt Swallow said the couple plans to rely on the kindness of strangers occasionally.

“We hope to find some nice people along the way that will just offer us a nice shower,” Julie Swallow said.

The Swallows got their maps and destinations from previous biking tours. They will be taking as many summer classes as they can since they will not be in school during the fall semester.

“The hardest part is not getting hit by a car,” Julie Swallow said.