Stephanie and Merrick McGinnis have ridden their bikes from Key West to Nova Scotia, Boston to Seattle and up and down the West Coast. Now these two-time Cosmic Tripsters are taking McMenamins by bike on a quest to fill their third Passports in a ride that may not be their longest (Boston-Seattle gets that honor at 3,200 miles), but certainly has the most beer. When they roll into the Blue Moon Tavern on September 30th, they will have completed more than 1,100 miles in 25 days. All by bike.
Before you get too jealous thinking this Gig Harbor couple must have all kinds of free time, these grandparents of two, with another on the way, work full time – Stephanie is a Port of Seattle Fire Department Battalion Chief and Merrick is, in his words, “just” a firefighter – and this trip is their vacation.
The inspiration behind the journey is simple: they combined their two favorite things, biking and beer – and then turned it into something bigger. The McGinnises are leaving a trail of joy as they ride. They pack light – all their gear fits in two small panniers apiece – but Stephanie is hauling five pounds of painted rocks, which she leaves roadside, in hotels, near fire hydrants and other nooks, imagining the smiles they will bring when they’re found.
They are also riding “because some can’t.” They pedal for friends and family facing cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and other hardships, raising awareness and funds along the way. Merrick describes Stephanie as a “philanthropic, altruistic soul” who has raised thousands of dollars for charities. Each day they ride for someone, whether it’s a friend in need or their daughter on her birthday, and sometimes that inspiration is exactly what they need to push through a headwind or a tough day. The entire trip is dedicated to Merrick’s dad who has Parkinson’s and in memory of Stephanie’s mom.
The journey that began at the Queen Anne Pub in Seattle takes them to Gearhart on the Oregon Coast, as far south as Roseburg and east to Old St. Francis School in Bend, and you can count on these two to savor every moment because “There’s never been a day that we haven’t wondered who we’ll meet, what picture we might take. The coolest thing you find is the thing you can’t plan for.”
Halfway through their trip, Stephanie and Merrick are riding the 44 miles from Corvallis to Eugene, with a good chunk of their Passports inked up. You can follow their progress on Facebook at Because Some Can’t, and donate directly to the charities they ride in support of: Seattle Brain Cancer Walk, Team Fox for Parkinson’s research, WSCFF Burn Foundation, and Wage Hope Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
If you see two bikers in Hammerhead and Ruby jerseys with a tattered flag bearing the windblown list of trips past, that’s Stephanie and Merrick on the way to their next beer – give them a wave of encouragement.
- Longest day: 75 miles (Kalama Harbor Lodge to Gearhart Hotel)
- Shortest day: 3.3 miles (Tavern & Pool to the Mission Theater, hitting the NW Portland pubs along the way)
- Most stamps in one day: 11
- Fewest stamps in one day : 1 (some days are zero stamps as they pedal across great chunks of Oregon)
- Leg with most elevation gain: 6,051 feet (Glide, near Roseburg, to Diamond Lake, Oregon)
- Day with most beers: To be determined
If you discover a painted rock along the road or hiding around McMenamins hotels, it just may be one of Stephanie’s; be sure to flip it over for what to do next.