Two Girls, Two Bikes, One Cause

Blythewood resident and Voice photographer Kristy Massey takes a break from training last weekend for her upcoming cross-country bike journey.

Blythewood resident and Voice photographer Kristy Massey takes a break from training last weekend for her upcoming cross-country bike journey.

BLYTHEWOOD (April 28, 2016) – Your ancestors might have headed west by covered wagon, seeking greener pastures, a new life or perhaps a few flakes of gold from the American River near Sutter’s Mill. It was an arduous journey, often through hostile territory, difficult terrain and unforgiving climates.

And it took a long time.

Next month, Blythewood resident and Voice photographer Kristy Kimball Massey will be following in the opposite direction some of those same trails blazed by 19th century pioneers; but not by covered wagon. Massey and her high school pal Donita Walters, of Kokomo, Ind., will be making the trek by bicycle.

“I did my first bike tour when I was 16,” the 46-year-old Massey said. “It was a two-week ride through Vermont and New Hampshire, and I fell in love with the idea of traveling through states on a bike. Traveling through small towns, going to small restaurants, you really see America; and not from the interstate.”

While the cross-country voyage is a personal challenge for the duo, they are also hoping to raise funds along the way for Homes for our Troops – a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to building specially adapted homes for service members nationwide who have returned home from duty with life-altering injuries. They have christened their journey “The Wandering Project: Two Girls, two bikes, one cause.”

“We looked into several charities when we were planning the trip,” Massey said. “As soon as I saw Homes for our Troops, I decided it was what I needed to do.”

Both Massey and Walters have military in their families – Massey’s husband Scott, as well as her father, brother and uncle and are all former military, while her son Derek, 21, is a rising senior at The Citadel and will be heading for the Army after graduation. Walters, meanwhile, has a father-in-law and a son-in-law who are both veterans.

Homes for our Troops assists some of the most severely injured veterans who have returned home from places like Afghanistan and Iraq with missing limbs, varying degrees of paralysis, blindness or traumatic brain injury. The charity provides the homes mortgage-free.

The goal is to raise $1 per mile, Massey said, or about $3,800 total. They will hand out cards along their route, collecting as they go. Walters is looking for corporate sponsorship as well, Massey said, for the charity and to help fund the trip.

“We’d also love to have some local business support as well,” Massey added.

America on Two Wheels

Massey and Walters, who will dip their tires in the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco on May 29 before heading east, will see plenty of states on this trip. The duo will travel through 10 states along the 3,744-mile journey, climbing to heights of more than 11,000 feet as they cross the Monarch Pass in Colorado before leveling out along the Great Plains as they make their way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. There, approximately 67 days later, they will dip their tires in the Atlantic Ocean and call it a summer.

The first week, Massey said, would be the toughest, with navigating urban terrain more challenging than the 124 miles of nothing they will traverse in Utah in week three. They plan to travel light, she said, but for the dessert crossing in Utah they will have to pack 15 pounds of just water. The Utah crossing will also be the only anticipated camping they will have to do along the way, and Massey said they will include a pair of small tents among their gear. Once they are through the wilds, she said, they will mail the tents home to lighten their load.

Right now, Massey said, they plan to go it alone; however, there is the possibility of a family member following along by car for at least a portion of the trip.

Reunion Tour

Like so many high school friends, Massey and Walters lost touch after graduating from Lewis Cass High School in Indiana in 1988. But thanks to the magic of Facebook, they found each other again just a few years ago.

In 2014, when Massey embarked on a 520-mile ride from Nags Head, N.C. to Hilton Head, Walters followed her progress on Facebook. Walters had done some mountain tours in Colorado, and the two of them decided to take a riding trip together.

“We discussed riding with each other, and then realized we both wanted to do a cross-country ride,” Walters recently told The Kokomo Herald.

After Massey completed her Head-to-Head ride in November of 2014, the two began making their plans.

“She got a bike right away,” Massey said. “I crashed my bike in Hilton Head 2 miles from the finishing point. Cracked the frame. I ordered a new bike in May (2015), and it just arrived in November. So I’ve gone a whole year without riding.”

Last weekend, the two got together for some training along the Blue Ridge Parkway, climbing Mt. Mitchell to work the kinks out.

For their cross-country ride, Massey said she hopes to average around 85 miles a day on the straightaways, 30-60 miles a day in the mountains.

“I like the challenge,” Massey said. “I like the adventure and pushing myself to the limits. I like to experience new places and meet new people.”

The adventure begins May 29.

Massey and Walters will chronicle their ride with journal entries on and will post photos along the way on their Instagram site, Wanderingproject. Their website,, will also detail their journey.

Anyone wishing to donate to Homes for our Troops can go to


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