Over the last two years, the ski world has been plagued by tragedy. Professional skier Billy Poole died in Salt Lake City after miscalculating a landing while filming for Warren Miller last year. Then, ski cinematographer Riley Poor suffered a severe spinal cord injury on the Winter Dew Tour at Mt. Snow, Vermont. This spring, the entire ski community was rocked to the core when legend Shane McConkey died while doing a ski-B.A.S.E. jump in Italy. Immediately after each accident, the word spread quickly through the ski community. As a close friend of Billy, Riley, and Shane, pro skier and B.A.SE. jumper Max Kuszaj can remember exactly where he was when he received each call. He stood there, shocked, speechless, unable to grasp the news.
Some people grieve the loss of a loved one by mourning in black clothing. But not skiers. They spend a month on their bicycles riding almost 2,000 miles down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Max came up with the idea for the Pacific Coast Ride for a Cause after chatting with friends and fellow pro skiers, Julian Carr and Cody Barnhill, who have completed segments of the journey and will be participating in the ride. “How many beers can you put back to Billy or Shane? I wanted to step aside and do something different to raise awareness to the fact that some athletes don’t even have health or life insurance and help out the foundations they support through their names,” Max says. “This will be something we can open to the public or younger kids who might want to come ride a day with us because some of their ski icons are doing it.”
The ride is scheduled to begin on October 3rd and will take roughly one month to complete. Participants include professional skiers Pep Fujas, Tim Russell, Peter Olenick, Michael Olenick, Jesse Hall, Suz Graham, media personality Chris “Uncle E” Ernst, Shane McConkey’s wife Sherry McConkey, and photographer Nate Abbott. The ride is open to the public. Riders will be staying at campsites along the way to minimize rider expenses. Cyclists are encouraged to join for any portion of the ride.
“Through this ride I am seeking to have individuals, business, and major corporations support my injured and fallen friends and icons in the ski industry,” Max says. There is no donation requirement for participation, but all riders are encouraged to raise as much as possible. Donations will go to support charities including The Riley Poor Foundation, The Shane McConkey Fund, and the Billy Poole Foundation.
Max knows that neither Riley, Billy, nor Shane would want anyone to sit back and stop what they are doing because of their accidents. “You guys never let me forget the most important thing in life,” Max says, “to follow your dreams.”
For more information about the Pacific Coast Cycle for a Cause and to stay updated as the trip progresses, please go to www.pacificcoastcycleforacause.com. Donations are now being accepted online. You can also follow them on Twitter by adding PCCycleforacause.com.
Information about the foundations is contained on the following websites: