LEWISTON – Bates College seniors John Bauer and Kate Gatti are out bike-riding this month – 2,380 miles from Florida to Maine, to raise money for Androscoggin Habitat for Humanity.

The 22-year-old students, who are friends and teammates on the Bates swim team, boarded a plane on April 10 for Ft. Meyers, Fla., and began riding north at an average pace of 70 miles a day.

In a phone interview April 15, John said he and Kate were in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and had covered about 300 miles. “We’ve had no problems,” he said. “And we’ve met some really nice people.”

During four nights on the road they have spent one with friends, one in a tent and two with people they met.

“Two people in a pickup who had done bike tours saw our trailer as we were stopped beside the road and pulled over to talk. They ended up inviting us to spend the night in their RV, where we slept on the floor,” said John.

“Another night, we were buying groceries and the cashier in the market got to talking with us, then invited us to spend the night at her home.”

Any adventures to report?

“We got lost on the second day out and made a 15-mile loop, but that’s all,” John replied. “We both have sore muscles,” he added.

They plan to arrive in Lewiston on May 23, just as Senior Week activities are getting under way at Bates.

“We are riding to support the construction of a new Habitat house that still lacks the necessary funding,” Bauer said.

Their trip also has an academic purpose: As they follow a coastal route from the Deep South to New England they will conduct an independent study initiative for short-term credit in English S-50. Engaging in conversations with people along the route and eating their cuisine, they hope to gain insights into the experience of being American.

They intend to spend most of their nights in tents and sleeping bags, which they are carrying in the towed bike trailer. They will buy most of their food at grocery stores and cook it on a camping stove, to avoid the expense of restaurant meals.

“This trip will be as cheap as it possibly can be, because we simply cannot afford to do it any other way,” said Bauer. Eighty percent of every dollar raised will go to Androscoggin Habitat and the remainder will be used for expenses. Bauer and Gatti already have raised more than $1,200.

Bauer, whose home town is Concord, Mass., and Gatti, whose home is Chelmsford, Mass., both take part in varsity swimming and other sports at Bates. He is majoring in economics and she in sociology.

People who want to help them may send checks payable to John Bauer, with “Wheeling for Home” on the memo line. His address is 32 Bates College, Lewiston, ME 04240. Additional information, including a travel journal, is available at www.bates.edu/~jbauer2.

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