Words by Max Kuszaj
Photos courtesy of Oakley
Since the arrival in San Diego less than a week ago, I have had time to relax, reflect and think about the 24 days spent on the road raising awareness with an amazing group of athletes and friends. Now that the ride has come to completion, I need to express the point that the cause will live on, and the spreading of awareness to the public must continue.
As freeskiing athletes and friends we are involved in an amazing industry, but one that needs a lot of direction when it comes to the health and well-being of its’ participants. Yes, it is a one-of-a-kind industry in many ways, and one that has consumed my life for nearly 10 years. I have met the most amazing individuals, traveled the world, and have made the best family of friends one could ever imagine possessing. With the stream of tragic accidents continuing, injuring and claiming the lives of friends, something needs to be changed. When I say “something” I am stressing the health, life, and general insurance freeskiing athletes cannot carry to protect themselves and their families against the financial struggle that may occur with an accident. I cannot think of another industry where the athletes and participants involved are in a situation like this, and it MUST improve.
Common questions often linger in my mind constantly. “Why can’t an athlete receive health insurance with a sponsor when signing a contract?” “Why can’t athletes like us receive life insurance that is affordable?” “How can companies turn their backs on an athlete who is in need after an injury?” The questions continue on and on, and for some reason I cannot find the proper answers, and that I have an “EXTREME” issue with. I hope that with events like the “Cycle for a Cause” we can bring some awareness and shed some light on these answers.
At the end of the ride in San Diego.
Our quest to pedal the West Coast was a success. Being surrounded by a group of people who share these concerns, who want to bring the necessary change to our world of freeskiing is what made this achievable, enjoyable and memorable. I cannot express my gratitude enough. You all have hearts of gold, buns of steel and the experience of sharing the open road with you is one I will never forget; Pep Fujas, Dave Steiner, Jesse Hall, Cody Barnhill, Jackie Paaso, Angeli VanLaanen, Alex Obrien, Tom Dolezel, Sherry McConkey, Tal Fletcher, Suz Graham, Carston Oliver, Greg Strokes, Tess Weaver, Derek Taylor, Tony Zentil, Matt Barber, Ian Graham, Mike, Casey, Katie, Shane (forgive me for not knowing your last names), ‘Super Nanny” Jen, and Ayla McConkey. Thank you for your pedal strokes and support of this ride.
Sherry & Ayla McConkey
This ride would not have happened without the financial and corporate support from the companies that have helped. The appreciation and gratefulness we have to you all is inexplicable.
The ride THANKS: MSI, Oakley and Oakley Research and Development, Clif Bar, GO PRO Cameras, Under Armour, Axis Freeride, Skullcandy, Scott USA, Beyond Coastal, BOOST Mobile, Da Kine, Cole Sport, Nike 6.0, K2 Skis, Discrete, Evo Gear, Powder Magazine, Freeskier Magazine, Skiing Magazine, Blue Sky Foods, Pro Bar, Backcountry.com, Mtn Ranks, Alta Ski Resort, Erik Seo Photography and Matchstick Productions.
Max & Pep Fujas doing their best Shane tributes during the trip...
And finally, thank you Riley Poor, Shane McConkey and Billy Poole for being the inspiration in my life. You are what made this happen.
To donate to Pacific Coast Cycle For A Cause click on the donate button above or go to pacificcoastcycleforacause.com