EMU students ride bikes from Pennsylvania to Georgia

By Richard Kelly, Independent-Mail

EMU students Chris Erb, left, and Heidi Hershberger
EMU students Chris Erb, left, and Heidi Hershberger pass through Donalds, S.C., on their bike trip from Philadelphia to Comer, Ga.

Eastern Mennonite University students Chris Erb and Heidi Hershberger passed through the Upstate Friday as part of a bike trip that is taking them from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

The two recently started their summer break from school this year by taking a four-day bicycle trip from the school in Harrisonburg, Va., to Philadelphia.

Both had signed up to be interns and volunteers for three months at Jubilee Partners in Comer, Ga., a Christian community that host refugees from war-torn countries such as some in Central America, the Middle East and Africa.

The two students decided to bike from Philadelphia to Comer.

“We didn’t want to drive. We wanted to do a bike trip,” Hershberger said Friday afternoon as the two traveled from Donalds to Due West.

Erb added, “We wanted to slow things down and meet people.”

The two had been riding for 12 days as of Friday and averaging about 70 miles each day, with their longest one-day ride having been 88 miles.

Erb tows a small bike trailer behind his bike with supplies the pair needs on the trip.

For most of the journey, the two have found places to camp for the night, except for a few times that they stopped in areas where their friends and family members lived. A few times total strangers met them and invited them to stay.

The two were on their way Friday to spend the night with some of Hershberger’s family members who live outside Due West before making the final leg of their trip to Comer, where they need to be by Monday.

Hershberger said she and Erb will be working with refugees from Burma to teach the group a bit about English, how to handle finances and American culture. The two also will be involved in cooking and child care.

“We’re not doing it for the money. We’ll only make $15 a week,” said Hershberger, a Georgia native, as she talked about how she had visited – but not worked at – Jubilee Partners last year.

She loved the people, commitment and lifestyle and wanted to help there this year, she said.

The friends said they won’t be able to bike back to Virginia because they wouldn’t finish up their work until the end of August, and they need to be back in time to resume college classes.

“(Erb’s) father is going to come down and visit. We’ll ride back with him,” Hershberger said.