Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
What is deCycles?
The deCycles is a three week cross-country cycling adventure for teens, college students and young adults. The deCycles combines a physical and mental challenge with spiritual growth in the summer experience of a lifetime. This is much more than a bike trip. It is a powerful transforming and rewarding pilgrimage, a chance to do something really different. Many deCycles veterans can't wait to do it again.
What if I am not an experienced cyclist?
The deCycles roster includes students & young adults of all backgrounds and cycling abilities. Since 1996, over 1200 student cyclists between 13-24 years of age have successfully completed the deCycles summer bicycle trips. If you are in good health and follow the necessary training guidelines which include pedaling a minimum of 500-miles and participating on at least five group rides after your application has been accepted, you will be able to do this trip. Mental determination is as important as physical ability on deCycles. The noncompetitive nature of deCycles makes it attractive to a wide spectrum of people. Everyone can be victorious when they finish the trip. You will certainly build awesome muscles and will grow in ways beyond mere physical strength and endurance.
What if I can't ride fast?
The deCycles trip is not a race. It is a chance to see our beautiful country at a slower pace. You will be averaging about 85 miles/day, without having to carry anything on your bike. You will be required to use a multi speed road bike with 700 x 23-28C wheels and tires. This is the easiest and most comfortable bike to ride for long distances. Practice rides scheduled before this trip will get you in shape and assist in your riding technique and safety. With the right equipment and preparation, an inexperienced cyclist is often surprised by their newfound capabilities in cycling.
Who rides on deCycles trips?
The roster is evenly divided between males and females who are students in college, high school, and middle school. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders are welcome. Adult participation is welcome but preference is given to student registration. Most of the riders come from the Bloomington area and the state of Indiana. Previous rosters have included riders from over 25 states, Canada, Germany, Egypt and Australia. Nearly half of the roster is often made up of deCycles veterans. A few riders are serious racers, but most are just casual bike riders, and many rookies are brand new to the sport.
Who will carry my stuff?
Each rider will be given a packing list of personal gear and apparel. Your mid-sized duffle bag of gear and sleeping bag will be packed and transported daily in a cargo truck. This truck will be loaded and unloaded every day at the designated stopover location. Your biking equipment will be secured overnight.
Where do deCycles stay?
Overnight stopovers are mostly prearranged. You will unroll your sleeping bag in school gyms, YMCA's, churches, and public facilities. These trips are relatively inexpensive because our overnight accommodations are usually free of charge. The deCycles will always leave these facilities spotless and in good condition. Arrival and departure in towns and cities can be quite spectacular. A large group of cyclists always draws interest from townspeople. Weekend stay overs are especially fun and restful.
Is it safe?
You will receive detailed information on safety when you register, and part of your orientation and practice rides will be devoted to maximizing safety on this deCycles trip. There will also be mandatory safety meetings scheduled during the trip. The deCycles will require and encourage basic safety guidelines such as wearing a helmet & cycling gloves, and following "rules of the road." The riders will learn effective ways of riding in groups on flat/hilly terrain, cities and towns, highways and back roads. They will learn to communicate road hazards and traffic conditions to others.
The deCycles unique riding style has been refined and improved over the years. There are no road-hogging packs or disorderly clumps of riders. There are no stray riders spread out over long distances. All riders wear brightly colored shirts and helmets. Each bike has a flagpole with orange safety flag attached or a high lumen taillight for high visibility. The cyclists are divided into 9-10 groups of six riders with even spacing between each group to allow safe traffic flow. They ride single file, in precision fashion, creating the appearance of a well-trained drill team. Riders communicate constantly between themselves to warn of road hazards and mechanical problems. Several support vehicles drive back and forth constantly monitoring the individual groups and assessing road surface, traffic flow, and weather conditions. The entire entourage is a spectacle similar to a parade and tends to slow traffic and attract motorist's interest. The deCycles support vehicles are equipped with first-aid supplies and communication devices for possible emergencies. Group leaders also utilize communication devices. Adult staff supervise and supply the riders with water, juice, fruit, trail food, lunch, sunscreen, and moral support. Rest stops are scheduled every 15-25 miles.
There are significant risks associated with bicycle riding in any situation. Road conditions, including bad weather and heavy traffic, can lead to unsafe cycling conditions which are beyond the control of the cyclist . The deCycles will do everything possible to help minimize the risks and have a safe and comfortable ride. You should realize, however, that you could find yourself in potentially dangerous situations. You must share the responsibility for your safety and that of other riders during your ride. You should understand that deCycles can only minimize risks to cyclists, but cannot eliminate them. Feel free to contact deCycles for any specific concerns on safety.
What is a Typical Day Like?
Every day on deCycles is a little different depending on mileage, terrain, pre-planned host activities, sightseeing points of interest, and unplanned situations that arise. The average day begins with wake-up call at 6:00am. Each rider will don their riding attire, pack up their sleeping bag and personal gear, eat a hearty breakfast and report for cleanup of the overnight facilities. Next, the riders prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for the challenge of the day by stretching, focusing, and quieting themselves in a reverent manner.
Groups are picked randomly with a veteran group leader who has the riding information and map directions for the day. Departure is usually around 8:00am. Each group will ride approximately 15-25 miles to the first food and juice break. The riders will ride single file and usually average 14-15mph, but this speed depends on terrain, wind direction, weather, and traffic. Faster riders are often grouped together for their enjoyment. Lunch break is usually 45-60 minutes at the 40-50 mile mark. The afternoon food & water break is 15-25 miles after lunch. The group usually arrives at the overnight stopover around 4-5pm.
Riding through towns and major cities is very exciting and memorable. Police bicycle and motorcycle patrol units often escort the cyclists in parade fashion, riding double file through metropolitan areas. The deCycles have been escorted through more than 100 major cities in United States and Canada in the past. Roads are often chosen for scenery, safety and cycling thrills.
Now, after the daily biking adventure is over, the fun begins. Evenings on a deCycles trip can be special. After showers and supper, sing-a-longs, talent shows, talking with townspeople, going to a movie, writing postcards and trip journals, enjoying a stroll through a town park, and just plain friendship and discussion are all part of our overnight stays. Bikes needing mechanical work are tuned up at this time. Most riders zonk out about 10:00pm.
What will I learn on this trip?
You will learn that you can't always control what's on the outside, but you can often control what's on the inside! This is a challenging experience and will test your attitude and determination. By pulling together with others, you will quickly appreciate the value of teamwork. You will carry your own weight and learn to deal with others when you're tired, hungry, and frustrated. Rock-solid friendships often result from this journey with others. At least five married couples are deCycles veterans who first met on the bike trip. You will become an expert cyclist, and will have an increased "road sense". Most importantly, you can discover more inner strength, spirituality, and clearer understanding of who you are and your place in this world.
"I've never done anything like this. People who join events like deCycles do them all the time."
Not true! Very few of this summer's cyclists will have ever done anything like deCycles. Some riders are good athletes, and some always finish last in sporting events or have never even been in a sport. Some can take a bike apart and rebuild it, others have just mastered pumping up their tires. The deCycles attracts participants from a variety of backgrounds, making it an extremely unique and diverse experience.
"I don't have a bike or the money to pay for this trip."
Much effort has been made to minimize the cost of this high adventure. It is an excellent price compared to similar programs. Sponsorships and scholarships may be available in your church or community to support your efforts to go on this trip. Fundraising events have been done in the past. Please contact deCycles if you would like to participate in these efforts. Also there are several ways to get a bike if you can't afford a new one. An investment in a bike will last longer than the summer. In Bloomington, there are used road bikes galore. If purchasing a bike is out of the question, try borrowing one from a friend. You could also persuade a local bike shop to sponsor you by donating a bike in your name, or have local patrons of the shop pitch in to buy you a bike for this historic trek. You can also rent a bike from a local bike shop.
"I don't think I can make it. I've never biked 75-80 miles at once."
Yes, you can! The deCycles is challenging, but the pace is moderate, and you have the whole group behind you. You'll grind up and glide down hills, chat with co-cyclists, and enjoy every rest stop. One of the most exciting parts of the trip is being able to surpass expectations you previously held of your physical and mental capacity. The unique spiritual nature of the deCycles program will help you get through the day. And you will probably lose weight and sport an awesome tan. You'll look better than ever!
Have the deCycles received any awards or acknowledgments?"
As a result of community effort and it's effects, the deCycles have earned several acknowledgments including the following:
Thirteen deCycles veterans have taken the checkered flag in the Indiana University Little 500 bicycle race from 2004 to 2011.
Special visitor status at the World Trade Center and Crash Site of Flight 93 in 2011.
Represented the International Firefighters Union to raise American flag at Ground Zero in NYC in 2011.
Returned the Ground Zero American flag to Bloomington, IN for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Remembrance Event.
deCycles Day Proclamation, June 24, 2005. City of Hartford City, Indiana
Chicken Soup For the Nature Lover's Soul - Inspirational deCycles story published in this international best-seller book released in March 2004.
deCycles Day Proclamation, June 30, 2003. City of West Palm Beach
Unrestricted passage of deCycles through Kennedy Spaceport, July 4, 2003.
College credit for participation through Indiana University HYPR Department.
deCycles Day Proclamation, June 22, 2002. City of Bloomington.
Special visitor status at World Trade Center and Crash Site of Flight 93 in 2002.
Special visitor status at The White House in 1999.
Ambassadors to Canada designation by Bloomington mayor in 1997.
Key to Hartford City, Indiana.
Key to Indianapolis, Indiana.
Numerous newspaper articles, radio and TV broadcasts since 1996.