WSU prof helps the impoverished with Canada-Mexico bike ride

Saturday , July 12, 2014 - 11:04 PM

Standard-Examiner staff
  • Early one morning this summer, Kathleen Cadman was in Monterey, Calif., eating a hot fudge sundae while she waited for the fog to lift. She wasn’t feeling any guilt about eating ice cream for dessert after breakfast, because she was burning a lot of calories riding her bicycle from Canada to Mexico.

“I do a lot of travel internationally, and I wanted to take some time to see my own country from a different point of view,” said Cadman, an assistant professor of nursing at Weber State University.

Cadman recently returned from a research trip to Africa, where she spent about a month in Mozambique collecting data on why there are so few rural healthcare workers in developing countries.

When she got home she wanted to spend some quality time with her family, so she and her parents hit the road together.

“My dad’s an avid cyclist,” she said, noting that the two of them once biked from Florida to California.

This time she and her father, Bob Cadman of Ogden, decided to see the country from top to bottom, riding their bikes the entire length of the U.S. Pacific Coast. Her mother, Doris Cadman, drove their support vehicle.

“We’d leave in the morning on our bikes, and have her meet us quite a ways out,” Cadman said, explaining that in between her mother visited lighthouses and shops. “It’s not like she was painstakingly creeping around behind us at 15 miles per hour.”

Cadman shared the adventure online at during the trip, and will leave the photo album open for a while longer.

Cadman and her family had a lot of fun, but the trip also had a serious side — raising funds for Outreach International, an organization helping impoverished countries. Cadman has traveled to 116 countries, and says Outreach International is one of the few groups helping with projects that are sustainable. A sustainable approach, involving locals instead of just visiting volunteers, is what’s needed to tackle problems such as the lack of rural healthcare workers in Africa.

“We want resources and information that can be passed easily to others, so the education keeps pushing out farther and farther to the more remote areas,” Cadman’s quoted as saying, in a press release from WSU. “We would start training in the larger cities, and each person who has been trained could turn around and train others.”

Kathleen and Bob Cadman hoped to raise $1 per mile as they rode their bikes on this trip. With a total of 1,842 miles, and two riders, the goal was $3,684. They wound up raising about $3,000, which means they came up $600 short. Pledges can still be made at

“Some of those dollars were pretty smooth sailing, and some dollars were hard earned — not all miles are created equal on a bike,” she said of the journey. “I have a little cycle computer, and sometimes I’d look down and I’d gone 12 miles and didn’t realize it because of beautiful scenery mixed with good terrain.”

But there was one mile in California that was particularly difficult.

“There are a lot of claims to fame out there, like ‘the biggest tree’ or the ‘closest point of land to Hawaii from the continental U.S.’ ... So when they told me this was like the steepest mile on the Pacific Coast, I was like, ‘Oh yeah,’ but that was pretty accurate.”

Cadman says her father is in better shape than her, but she held her own.

“My goals were to not cry, not vomit, not get injured, not have to get off and push my bike, and to raise money,” she said.

She finished the ride with those goals intact.

The Cadmans started in Canada on June 7. They reached Mexico on July 4, but decided not to cross the border because of the long lines. Instead, they ended at a park.

“The border people let us stick our front tires through the fence,” she said, adding. “We finished in time to watch fireworks over San Diego.”

The family could have made their journey a little more quickly, but the pedaling professor likes to stop and take pictures and meet friends. She stopped to see Cannery Row in Monterey, to check out the setting of John Steinbeck’s novel, saw the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and spent some time on the beach. She even stopped to make a sketch when she saw a sign that said “Draw Bridge.”

“I’m one of those ‘the journey is the destination’ kind of girls,” she said. “Just plowing through, and looking at a white line in front of you is not nearly as fun — it takes the adventure out of the adventure.”

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright.

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