By Daniel Diner ’14
Eric Steinbrook ’15
Eric Steinbrook ’15 is traveling from San Francisco to Boston this summer with seven other college students, promoting a national HIV/AIDS organization and raising funds for victims of the disease. He is going to explore cities including Denver and Cleveland, speak at community centers and Rotary clubs and meet people in countless small towns along the way. And he’s doing it all from the seat of his bike.
A premed with an interest in public health, Steinbrook reached out to Partners In Health, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to providing health care for the world’s poor, inquiring about an internship. One of the representatives mentioned a bike tour their sister group, FACE AIDS, organizes over the summer. Steinbrook immediately decided it was for him. “It was exactly what I wanted to do this summer. I worked in a lab last summer, and I was dreading working in a lab again, so I was like, ‘Why not just bike?’”
The trip will start at the FACE AIDS office in San Francisco on June 21. Steinbrook and his team will then bike 4,000 miles, ending the journey 63 days later at the Partners In Health office in Boston. In addition to raising awareness through presentations that he will make along the way, Steinbrook hopes to raise $10,000 for FACE AIDS. (Visit his fundraising page to donate.)
This won’t be Steinbrook’s first cross-country trip on a bike. While still in high school he participated in a more structured trip that took him from Savannah, Ga., to Los Angeles. The memory of that experience is very dear to Steinbrook, and it’s why he’s so eager to take part in this summer’s ride.
The challenges one faces on a trip like this, he says, are not necessarily those one would expect. During his high school ride, the athletic challenge was not the most difficult one he had to overcome. “I found that the physical aspects were easy to deal with. But when it came to dealing with the small things, it was much harder. For example, I became really fixated on the prospect of biking without shortcuts or anything like that. And there was this one time in Oklahoma where we had to bike 120 miles in one day, but there was just so much wind that it was impossible for us to get that far. We found this farmer who put all our bikes into this trailer and drove us 40 miles. That was one of the most disappointing moments of my life, as silly as that sounds in retrospect.”
Steinbrook’s biggest goal for the summer is to work on his mental resolve and clarity, as getting unhealthily mired in one’s own thoughts is a common, constant threat when biking long distances. “It’s really easy to do when you don’t have anything else to think about,” he says, recalling his earlier cross-country journey. “I found that the best way to deal with it was just to talk to everyone on the trip.”