A group of 22 cyclists will pedal through Bloomington next Friday and Saturday as part of a nine-week journey from San Francisco to Washington, DC. Mostly college students, the riders are participating in the 17th annual Bike-Aid, a cross-country cycling trip that raises public awareness about pressing social issues.

During the 3,600-mile trip, the cyclists meet with a wide range of community organizations working for positive change. When the riders arrive in Washington on Aug. 18, they will meet with their congressional representatives to advocate on behalf of the groups and issues they learned about during the summer.

"Bike-Aid is pushing me to my limits and giving me a chance to discover the unexpected in myself and in the towns and cities we're passing through," says rider Tanya Margolin, 21, from Pittsburgh. "You really learn how big this country is riding on a bike 8 hours a day. Yet at the same time I'm finding out how easy it is to bring people together and make this world a smaller place."

This summer, Bike-Aid will explore the domestic repercussions of the war on terrorism. Riders will meet with civil liberties groups and hear how communities are responding to the increase in racial profiling.

Bike-Aid is sponsored by Global Exchange, an international human rights organization. It is designed to give young people an opportunity to discover the diversity of the people of the United States and to understand the interrelationships between the problems that affect us locally, regionally and globally. As they travel the country, riders meet with local grassroots groups and learn about what they are doing to make their communities more livable, more democratic, and more just.

"Students and young people have always played a major roll in social movements," says Brooke DuBose, the Bike-Aid director. "Their remarkable open-mindedness and thirst for adventure makes them perfect for the Bike-Aid experience. This is an opportunity for them to learn what communities in the US are doing to fight poverty and racism, and how they can help to make change."

To organize a meeting with the Bike Aid riders and arrange an interview with cyclists, contact Jason Mark at 415-558-9490 or jason@globalexchange.org.