Off With Their Heads' Ryan Young riding bike to Denver for charity
Erik Hess Off With Their Heads at the Triple Rock in 2013
Off With Their Heads' Ryan Young likes to challenge himself. That's why he scheduled a 900+ mile bike ride from Minneapolis to Denver where the musician is betting that his stubbornness will overcome his conditioning.
Young and fellow musician Brad Lokkesmoe (Dear Landlord/the Gateway District) first planned the trip on a whim, later deciding they should help out a good cause while they push their limits. The two have launched an Indiegogo project to raise the funds, using only a minimal amount for their own travel expenses (food and lodging) and donating the lump sum remainder to save.org, a local suicide awareness organization.
Off With Their Heads return home
The two veteran musicians are used to a life on the road and living frugally, so it's a campaign in which nearly all funds will benefit save.org. Indiegogo donors will receive a range of gifts for their contributions, ranging from "your name yelled at a bird," to tourist shot glasses and postcards to specially printed hoodies.
Young is currently taking some downtime after seven years of touring with Off With Their Heads, instead focusing his energy on his Anxious and Angry podcast, which focuses on mental health issues in the community, and the charitable backdrop to his ride is a fitting combo.
In the Indiegogo page, you say that neither of you are "bike guys." How did the idea come up, and why Denver?
Ryan Young: It started as a joke. I wondered how long it would take to bike there for no real particular reason at all. I told a few close friends of mine, and they said that I would never be able to do it. If there is anything that motivates me to do something, it is someone telling me that I can't do it. I basically wanted to have my own personal Forrest Gump moment: just go and see what happens. I sat on it for a couple days, and then realized that if I've done some of the other shit I've done in my life, this is nothing. I then got to thinking that it would be a super good idea to have a partner in crime and Brad is the only person I know who is as interested in doing strange or crazy things as I am. I think I just sent him a text asking, "Hey, do you want to bike to Denver with me?" I knew he would be down.
I chose Denver because I love it there, and I have some friends that I can stay with when we get there. The other reason is that there is a metal-themed brewery there. There is also a Nordic/Celtic themed brewery here in Lino Lakes called Hammerheart, and I thought it would be a rad idea to have a kickoff party and a finishing party at these two places -- I'm still waiting to hear from Hammerheart, but TRVE in Denver is behind us 100 percent. All of this materialized and it became a reality. Then I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to raise some money for a cause. One of my [Anxious and Angry] listeners suggested Save.org as a great local organization that can always use some extra funds. They specialize in helping people not only prevent suicide, but give resources to those who are dealing with the issue personally. Needless to say, the support we received in three days of announcing has been incredible.
How much do you plan to train?
I'm not going to have much time to. I get back from Europe three days before we leave. I'll be going to the gym as much as I can between now and then, but that's about it. Since it isn't a race and more of an adventure, I'm not worried. I adapt pretty quickly. I think my stubbornness is going to be the driving force for the trip.
A big part of this ride is the message that "you can do something if you set your mind to it." Why do you feel that people need to hear this message and how do you think your ride will inspire others?
I think that many of the mental problems that people like (and unlike) us have stem from feeling trapped or bored: maybe not having anything to look forward to, maybe not feeling like there isn't much of a purpose for anything. Things seldom just fall into your lap. You have to make it happen. Me saying you can do anything if you set your mind to it is not necessarily true. You can definitely do a hell of a lot more if you apply yourself, though. So I guess I would love to inspire someone to maybe go on an adventure of their own. Imagine what that would do for someone who didn't realize almost anything is an option.
How has the response been so far?
Well, I reached my initial goal in two days without even posting about it, just through other people finding out about it. That was such a great feeling. I really didn't know if people would get behind this or not. Knowing that they have and that we almost hit 300 percent of our goal in the first week is great. There is no limit to what we can give, so I hope it keeps up.
I'm kind of excited to be able to show that people in our community aren't just a bunch of lazy dickheads. A lot of us care about people. I personally care about my community of listeners who go through tough times. Hell, I care about everyone going through tough times. I hope this lets everyone know that, and maybe motivates others to do something weird and good.
Contribute to the Indiegogo campaign here.
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