VICTORVILLE — After Tracy Draper and her team of cyclists finished a 109-mile bicycle ride with 6,000 feet of climbing, a room normally used for belly dancing at Hook Community Center was an amazing place for a good night’s sleep.

“I had a dream a few years ago of riding across America,” Draper said Thursday. “It just became time to do it. It was now or never.”

The group of friends began their 35-day, 3,000-mile bicycle journey from Malibu to their homes in central Florida on Wednesday. The trip from Malibu to Victorville featured winding climbs through the San Fernando Valley and through Newhall Pass into Palmdale.

“We came up into Palmdale and it was fantastic scenery, just rolling hills as far as the eye could see,” cyclist Bill Bellew said.

The group is hoping to raise $30,000 and awareness for Hope for the Warriors, a group that aims to restore hope and faith for injured veterans. Hope for the Warriors is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit and restoring hope for service members and their families.


Though they’re experienced riders, the desert-mountain climate presents a new challenge for them.

“When we reached the top (of the mountains) we couldn’t tell if it was heat or altitude (affecting the riders),” Bellew said. “We’re used to very humid weather; when you sweat you feel it. Here you don’t know how the heat is affecting you. The humidity is so low the sweat dries up right away.”

The team will continue adapting to the desert as it rides toward the Grand Canyon, where the riders have their first scheduled rest day.

Visit to follow the team’s progress, or visit to learn more about Hope for the Warriors.

View video interviews with some of the cyclists here: