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Wheel commitment

They started with snow banks in Alaska, now two young cyclers pedal through a heat wave on the way to Mexico
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Briscoe will stay in Ashland long enough to ride in the Fourth of July parade before he and his cousin Charlie Slattery continue their journey to Tijuana. Mail Tribune / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch
 Posted: 2:00 AM July 02, 2013

At 9 a.m. Monday, it was already 81 degrees in Medford and Quincy Briscoe was taking a break from his goal of bicycling 3,000 miles.

By 2 p.m., the 19-year-old rode into Ashland on his Specialized Crux racing bike, towing a trailer packed with food, a camping tent and bear spray.

"It feels like it's 108 degrees," said Briscoe, who is biking from Alaska to Mexico — with a ferry trip in between — to raise money for Cambodian children.

Safe in the sun

Precautions to reduce the risk of heat-related illness include:

• Schedule strenuous outdoor activity in the early morning or later in the evening, when the sun and heat aren't as strong.

• Drink water every 15 to 20 minutes.

• Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and lightweight fabrics that wick moisture away from your body to help keep you cool. Avoid wearing dark colors, which absorb heat.

• Mild heat-related illness symptoms (headache, weakness) can be treated by drinking cool water and resting in a shaded area.

• Call 911 immediately if a person loses consciousness or appears confused or uncoordinated, which could be signs of heat stroke.

To see photos taken along the journey or for information on Project Enlighten, visit and search for Quincy Briscoe's Tundra to Tijuana project.

With him is his cousin, Charlie Slattery, 20.

When the two began their fundraising Tundra to Tijuana cycling trip on May 31, they were greeted by snow banks in Anchorage.

Now, they're in the middle of a heat wave.

They're managing hours pedaling under the sun by drinking a lot of water — filtered from streams, when necessary — and wearing ray-repelling shirts.

There are no tricks, however, to make their life too cushy right now, except for this stop in Ashland.

But that's part of the effort.

"Just put your nose to the grindstone and get through it," Briscoe said Monday, after arriving at dad Christopher Briscoe's photography studio. "The heat won't stop you, it will just slow you down."

Monday night, he ate a longed-for, home-cooked meal at his parents' house, then stretched out in front of a TV screen and looked the part of a college kid on summer vacation.

Which he is.

Briscoe is studying business at Santa Barbara City College.

Slattery is a business major at Montana State University.

Both are staying in one place just long enough to ride in the Ashland Fourth of July parade and promote their project.

The donations they collect will be given to the nonprofit group Project Enlighten, which builds schools for children in Cambodia and other Third World countries.

Next week, Briscoe and Slattery will be back on the road, heading to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The entire trip will take about 60 days and encompass brutally different climates and terrains.

But, they shrug, a bike got them involved with this project and they're determined that their bikes will see them through.

When Briscoe was a freshman at Ashland High School five years ago, he traveled to Cambodia with his father.

There, Briscoe met a boy named Hong, who couldn't attend school because it was too far to walk.

For about $30, Briscoe bought the 9-year-old a bicycle.

"It gave him a chance to get an education," said Briscoe. "That bike changed his life."

Last year, Briscoe and Slattery pedaled from St. Augustine, Fla., to San Diego, Calif. — 3,091 miles — and gathered $7,000 in donations for Project Enlighten.

Over that 56-day trip, they encountered 7,500-foot passes, biting rain, blinding sun and head winds that "suck all the water out of you," said Briscoe.

Despite eating 6,000 calories a day — he sometimes chugs a half gallon of chocolate milk at lunch — he still dropped 20 pounds by biking about 75 miles a day.

On this journey, Briscoe and Slattery spent the first night sheltered inside the Anchorage airport, with a hammock strung up against a railing.

"These are our lives," said Briscoe in a video he posted. "This is my luxury towel." A GoPro video camera mounted on his handlebars records the journey on the road.

One day, they were pitted by hail. The next, they were dodging wind drafts from semi trucks.

A flood outside Vancouver, B.C., forced them to take a ferry, shortening their original plan by 1,000 miles.

A good day — like when they entered Ashland — is when they have the wind at their back.

"We have to be prepared for anything," said Briscoe, who still was surprised to encounter mosquitoes "the size of my head," and natural light blasting into his tent at 10 p.m.

On Monday, Briscoe and Slattery also talked about the daily mental exhaustion of finding food, water and a place to camp.

"I'm dead tired but my mind won't shut off until we have figured out the next day," said Briscoe.

In another video, he worried that he would get scorched by the lingering sunshine, but then quickly refocused on the mission.

He turned to the camera and pleaded with viewers to "help kids in Cambodia get an education." Weary but smiling, he suggested people give up a latte.

"Brighten your day," he said, "by giving that $5 instead to Project Enlighten." With that, he said good night, turned off the video camera and fell onto his sleeping bag, preparing for what the next day could deliver.

Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or

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