Thousands of spring 2011 West Virginia University graduates are now beginning their post-college, personal journeys, but perhaps none are so literal as the trip being undertaken by Andrew Underwood.

Underwood, of Sparta, N.J., graduated this month with a degree in communication studies and a minor in adventure sports leadership. On May 30, he will depart from Venice Beach, Calif., and hit the road on a cross-country bicycling trip to promote literacy and healthy living.

Along with his uncle, Kevin Vrabel, and his cousin, Johnathan Robert “Crash” Vrabel, Underwood will spend about eight weeks on the road, traveling through Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, to reach their final destination of Asbury Park, N.J., by July 23.

This is no ordinary bike trip. For every two hours that the group spends on the road, they will devote 20 minutes to reading or writing.

“Many people have lost touch with the idea that you don’t need much to make you happy,” Underwood said. “I hope throughout the course of the trip we can demonstrate how the joy of reading along with daily exercise can help you to live a happier and more full life.”

The idea of the trip sprung from a conversation between the three riders six years ago, when they traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway on bicycles. Kevin Vrabel suggested a trip across the United States when the boys graduated from college.

“I hope that our trip will inspire people to live healthier lives, not only physically but also psychologically,” Underwood said. “I want people to see that with a positive attitude and a real desire to do something, that anything is possible. I want people to see that whether you are 75 or 22 you still have room to learn and grow.”

The group has posted a route map and dates on the website, which will be updated throughout the trip. Their hope, they said, is that other riders can find them, a la the scene in the 1994 Tom Hanks film, “Forrest Gump,” where runners join the title character as he makes a cross-country trek by foot.

“When people hear about the trip I want them to think that it is something that they could do,” Underwood said. “I hope that it will spark something inside them to not only better themselves but also to better the people around them.”

After the trip ends, Underwood will travel to Argentina for an internship with the company Biking Buenos Aires. He plans to live in the South American country for about three years before returning to the United States to hike the Appalachian Trail.

For more information & to see their route map, visit or look up the group’s Facebook page by searching for Bikes Books & Better Living



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