Gears for change

A Minot native is pedaling across southern North Dakota for a cause with a group of like-minded bikers at her side.

Amanda Allen, now of the Minneapolis area, organized the Gears for Change Bike Tour from Dickinson to Fargo with recent Concordia College graduates Lindsey Teigen and Jess Roscoe. Their goal is to raise $10,000 for the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People.

“We really liked the idea of exploring North Dakota but doing it for a cause,” Allen said. “We are very proud to be from North Dakota and just love being outdoors, and seeing different parts of the state, especially going through the small towns and getting to know the people there, but we wanted to do all those things with a purpose.”

The women chose to raise money for the homeless coalition after considering a variety of charities.

According to a snapshot of homelessness on Jan. 23, there were 3,235 homeless people living in North Dakota, including 1,025 youth younger than 18. Of those homeless individuals, 1,395 were unsheltered, including 365 youth. Mental illness, chronic substance abuse and domestic violence contributed to a sizable share of homeless circumstances.

Allen works for Lutheran Social Services in St. Paul, Minn. Teigen, a Fargo native, will be headed back to school in the fall to enter an occupational therapy program. Roscoe, a New Rockford native, is working on a political campaign. Both Teigen and Roscoe graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., this spring.

The trio invites other bikers to join them and were expecting to pick up others as they traveled along their route. Heading out of Dickinson with them was veteran rider Julie Heuer of Fargo.

“She’s definitely helping us out,” Allen said. “Jess and Lindsey and I have never done a long-distance bike tour like this so Julie has been just invaluable.”

Roscoe’s grandfather and stepfather have been driving the shuttle that accompanies the bikers.

“This is my first real bike tour ever in my life,” Teigen said. “I am always up for a challenge. It just sounded like something fun. I thought it would be a great way to see the state.”

Biking along Interstate 94 for the first leg of the 350-mile trip was a different experience than driving the route.

“I have seen so many new things I have never noticed before,” Teigen said.

Roscoe said the opportunity to see the beauty of North Dakota motivated her to make the bike trip.

“It’s been fantastic,” she said, although adding that they haven’t necessarily had the wind at the their backs as they had hoped. They faced strong winds early on. The support that they have received has made up for it, though.

Hebron hosted them their first night in the community center, and a resident there, learning about their mission, bought them breakfast. They spent Tuesday in New Salem and Wednesday in Bismarck. Other stops are planned in Napoleon, Gackle, Marion, Kindred and Fargo.

Their biggest partners have been the Empowerment Project and Dakota Medical Foundation. Hilton Garden Inn also is a partner and will host the post-tour celebration on June 2 at 6 p.m. that will feature four bands. The event is open to the public at no charge. Donations will be accepted.

Donations also can be sent to Gears for Change, P.O. Box 2147, Fargo, ND 58107.

People can learn more at (www.gearsforchange.org) or can follow the tour at (www.facebook.com/NDgearsforchange).