EVERETT — A couple of dozen tents sprung up outside the Everett Boys &Girls Club on Saturday night.
More than 70 bicyclists camped out on the ball field outside the club and in the gym before embarking on a nine-week journey across the country.
The Everett Boys &Girls Club this weekend played host to Cycle America, which organizes coast-to-coast and other bicycle rides around the United States. The group this year chose Everett as the starting point for the 4,200-mile trip.
On Sunday morning, the cyclists dipped the back tires of their bikes in the water off the 10th Street boat launch and headed east. On Saturday, they ate dinner at the club and held a meeting upstairs in the Teen Center.
Some bicyclists will be sending post cards and exchanging letters with kids from the Boys &Girls Club, director Jeremy Oshie said.
The students will be tracking the riders’ progress on a map and learning about the country’s geography. It’s a unique opportunity for the kids, some of whom haven’t been outside north Everett, Oshie said.
“Whether these bicyclists realize it or not, they are going to inspire some of these kids,” he said.
A roster revealed how far some riders have traveled: Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Australia. The riders come from all walks of life, and everyone has a special reason for taking the trip, said Greg Walsh of New York, who runs Cycle America.
For Chris and Andrew Dordal of Emmaus, Penn., it’s a father-son adventure. Chris, at 17, is the youngest rider this year. His dad, at 48, is working on the goal of cycling across the country before he turns 50. The two are riding for only three weeks this time.
The trip consists of nine week-long segments, and about 20 riders only are participating is one or two tours. About 45 are in for the full ride.
The oldest cyclist is 81. And he is riding all the way.
All told, the 64-day trip costs $6,885. About a dozen people are helping make sure the riders have their stuff at the end of the day and a hot meal, said Walsh, the organizer. The group mostly stays at schools and community organizations along the way. That gives them an opportunity to meet people and get a community feel, as opposed to staying at hotels, Walsh said.
Tom Verloop, 53, came to Everett from the town of Assen in the Drenthe province of the Netherlands. The region is known as the “Cycling Province.”
Verloop described his city as bicycle paradise, where many people have not one but two bicycles, one to get around town and one for long-distance rides. He is riding all the way to the final destination, Boston, with a longtime friend from Denmark.
Verloop, an architect by trade, has been saving vacation for the trip.
“This is a great moment,” he said.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, firstname.lastname@example.org.