Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya The Rev. Eric Zimmer has been preparing for his cross-country bike trip that will begin next Saturday, May 24, and take him from Washington state to Washington, D.C.

Ever since growing up in suburban Detroit, Rev. Eric Zimmer, S.J. has been an avid bicyclist. On May 24, Zimmer, an assistant professor in the Communication, Culture and Technology department, will embark on a 4,000-mile bicycle journey across the United States to raise money for charity.

Zimmer wanted to make his ride more than a personal accomplishment. “I’ve always wanted to ride across the United States, but I wanted to attach it to something,” Zimmer said.

Last year he contacted Project Rachel, a branch of the National Office of Post-Abortion Healing, and asked them if they would be interested in collaborating with his trek, which Zimmer calls the LifeRide.

Project Rachel was founded in 1984 in the Archdiocese of ilwaukee and serves as a counseling and support service for women who have had abortions and any others that have been affected by abortion loss.

Zimmer will begin his trek in Washington State, riding through the Pacific Northwest before coming south through both peninsulas of Michigan, his home state. His route then takes him through Cleveland and Pittsburgh before finally ending up in back in Washington, D.C. The majority of his routes come from the Adventure Cycling Association, a national organization that provides biking information and routes for touring cyclists.

“I’ll mostly be using secondary highways until I get closer to Washington and the drivers get more crazy,” Zimmer said.

Working with the people at Cycle Smart, Zimmer has been training intensely for the last five months for the LifeRide, riding two to fours hours a day, five days a week.

“The training goes by weeks, with some weeks building up distance and other weeks with lessened distance” Zimmer said on his Web site. “Now that the weather is good I can spend more time biking outside along the many bike paths of the D.C. area.”

Along the way, Zimmer will stay at local parishes wherever possible, saying Mass and speaking to parishioners as an abortion opponent.

“Staying at a parish is different from staying at a motel,” Zimmer said. “When you stay at a parish you really become inserted into the community.”

Parishes have been very supportive, offering spaces in their rectories and finding other accommodations when that is not possible, according to John Coghlan (COL ’06), who has helped Zimmer secure financial support for his LifeRide.

“My involvement in [his] ride has mainly been helping him make phone calls to the parishes on his route to see if [he] would be able to stay,” Coghlan said. “The responses were overwhelmingly positive.”

Zimmer is not the first member of the Georgetown community to bike across the country in support of a charitable organization. During the summer of 2000, 10 Georgetown students cycled from San Francisco to Healy Circle in support of It’s For the Kids, a nonprofit organization supporting awareness and treatment of pediatric AIDS.

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