Arielle Parris started Cycked!Org to inspire adventures. The site includes gear reviews, trip reports, opinion pieces, and lots of motivation to get outside. Cycked!Org is also a platform to raise money for kids to experience the outdoors through the YMCA Program GOLD/BOLD. Arielle and her partner Avry will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the spring to raise funds and awareness of the program.
Learn more in the interview with Arielle, after the jump.
All photos above and below (C) 2015 Cycked!Org
When did your love for the outdoors develop?
I have been obsessed with fairies and Peter Pan and nymphs that live in the woods since I was little, and my interest in rolling around in the dirt hasn’t faded. I grew up spending time outside on horseback — which was an amazing way to get outdoors and learn about animals at the same time. During college my outdoor interest dropped off, and it wasn’t until I was introduced to an organization called Bike & Build that I got reacquainted with the wild. I cycled across the USA with thirty other young people (including my partner Avry) and found out my body does amazing things. I’ve been on that roll for the past three years.
Why the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?
Just like Bike & Build (we were shopping in REI when we met two inspiring cyclists), the trail found us. Right before Bike & Build I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed at the request of my mother and the idea of walking across the States started knocking around in my head. I walked parts of the Camino de Santiago in Spain last year, and when I got back I asked Avry to walk the PCT with me.
The PCT is 2,650 miles long. Be honest – are you nervous? What are you doing to prepare?
Oh my goodness — we are both so nervous! My NYC-raised neuroses are through the roof right now! With only four months before we leave, most of our energy is put into planning, training, and worrying. We are hiking at least once a week, doing plenty of at-home and gym workouts, putting together spreadsheet after spreadsheet (mileage, food, gear, etc.), working our butts off to make sure we have enough funds, and trying not to let our anxieties take over.
Tell us about your companion for the trek.
I met Avry four and a half years ago during a summer term of Americorps (it’s the Peace Corps for the USA) and we’ve been together ever since. Avry is a freelance graphic designer who moonlights as a cook, and is in charge of all the imagery on Cycked!org. Av is quite possibly the most big-hearted person I know, and is always game for adventuring. We make a rad team. Avry says “hi.” [Editor Note – Hi Avry!]
Your goal is to raise $10K for GOLD/BOLD – a YMCA program with the goal of getting youth outside. What inspired you to use your journey as an opportunity to help others?
I think both Avry and I have always found volunteer work to be rewarding. When we did Bike & Build, which is an organization that gets young people to bike across the country and raise funds and awareness for affordable housing, we found out that we had the power to really make positive change in the world. It also taught us that you can transform something really selfish like taking two months off of life to cycle into something that gives back. We talked about this really important issue with everyone we met across the country.
When we started talking about embarking on another major journey, it simply made sense to make it about something bigger than us. And, more than anything, we both wanted to give the incredible experience of being outside to the next generation. Better yet, we thought, we should give it to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. We’re creating 20 scholarships for low-income youth, so they can learn leadership skills in the wilderness. We want to share our love of the outdoors so they can pay it forward when it’s their turn.
What’s your favorite way to step out the door?
My favorite way to step outside is sporting clashing, bright patterns, a big smile for everyone on the street, and dreams of adventure in my head. When I leave home like that, I know it’s going to be a great day.
You are growing a community with your site Cycked!org. Describe your ideal Cycked! peruser in 3 words.
Stoked, adventurous creatives.