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'The easy part is the riding'

Four tires, 16 states and four months later, Crater High School graduates Chase Duran and Clancy Sinchum have crossed the United States on their bicycles and are headed home.

Duran and Sinchum, both 25 and friends since kindergarten, loaded their touring bikes with about 100 pounds of gear, clothing, a laptop and a camera and set off May 8 from Anacortes, Wash., to travel the U.S.

By the time they return sometime in November, they will have cycled more than 9,000 miles of trails and secondary roads in 27 states, following the northern border of the U.S. to Maine, then taking the southern route to California and back up the coast to their home in Sams Valley. The two ride between 60 and 112 miles a day.

"If you're just making miles, you won't get anything as far as the people and the culture," Duran said by phone from Boston.

Duran attended Southern Oregon University for his undergraduate degree and Oregon State University for his master's degree, while Sinchum attended Wyoming Technical Institute.

Duran said they were both in a transitional period in their business and personal lives and were ready to try something adventurous. Duran was managing retail for Target in Portland, and Sinchum was working for the Lithia Volkswagen dealership in Medford.

"We both were just unhappy with the norm," Duran said. "So many people talk about doing a trip like this in their lifetime but don't have the motivation."

The two decided they should try to raise money for a good cause at the same time, choosing Habitat for Humanity International and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Duran said. He said he worked closely with Habitat for Humanity in Central Point and was impressed with the people and the work. Duran and Sinchum said they were also motivated to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation because they had family and friends who had battled breast cancer.

The bicyclists hope to raise $3,000 for each organization through donations.

"We wanted people more deserving than ourselves to benefit from the fun we were having," said Duran.

They've raised $358 so far, according to their Web site, www.clancandchaser.blogspot.com. Eight percent of their goal has been donated to Habitat for Humanity and 5 percent to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

"The easy part is the riding," Duran said. "The hard part is the fundraising."

They started training two months before their trip by riding their bikes 10 to 20 miles "here and there, whenever we could, with or without our gear on our bikes," Duran said.

The soreness lasted only the first couple of weeks, Duran said.

"The hardest stretch was day number four in the northern Cascades," he said.

Neither Duran nor Sinchum has had any serious injuries along the way.

"Knock on wood," Duran said.

In a typical day, the sojourners wake up, cook oatmeal and are on the road by 8 a.m. They ride through the day, stopping occasionally to eat or use the Internet at a library, Duran said.

"As much as we pedal, we're not triathletes that can pedal eight hours in a row," he said.

Duran said they're often invited to camp in people's yards or stay in their houses.

"The people have been the highlight of our trip," he said.

"Just about when we're out of clean clothes, we happen upon someone to wash them," Sinchum said. "I don't think we've used a laundromat once."

Duran and Sinchum pace themselves when riding through large cities or national parks. They use an Adventure Cycle map to find their route along the Northern Tier trail (4,321 miles), the Atlantic Coast trail (1,114 miles), the Transamerica trail (2,107 miles), the Western Express trail (1,585 miles) and the Pacific Coast trail (527 miles).

For Sinchum, everything is new east of North Dakota.

"I liked Montana (the best) because Glacier National Park was amazing, just the geological part of it and the wildlife," Sinchum said. "Although Boston was pretty cool."

They were traveling through Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Thursday.

"It's really a great way to see the country 'cause you're going at such a slow pace you're able to take in everything," Sinchum said.

Friends and family can track Duran and Sinchum's progress or donate to their causes on their Web site.

"We've already started talking about South America next," Duran said.

Reach intern Teresa Thomas at 776-4464 or intern1@mailtribune.com.

Clancy Sinchum, left, and Chase Duran pose for a photo at the highest point in their cycling trip across the U.S. and back, 5,575 feet at Sherman Pass in Washington state.