More than 150 bicyclists converged in Washington yesterday after pedaling across the country to raise money for antihunger programs in the United States and for development in Third World countries.
The cyclists, members of a national student organization called Overseas Development Network, raised about $200,000 during their rides, most of which have taken about two months.
They will spend two days here with officials at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
After that, they will travel to New York to meet with officials at the United Nations.
"We have seen the country in a way you can't see in any other way," said Ray Schellinger, who traveled from Portland, Ore.
Schellinger rode into Rock Creek Park waving a flag he purchased at a grocery store just outside of Washington.
Another biker wore a cape when he entered the park. "I'm celebrating," said Bill Pratt of Seattle. "It's a symbol of getting here and having fun."
The cyclists began their trips in six cities: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Austin, Tex. Many of them have been pedaling since June 17.
Along the way, the cyclists performed community services by working in soup kitchens, children's homes, refugee centers, and agencies that help elderly persons.
Many faced adverse conditions such as 99-degree weather in the South, rolling hills in Central Texas, and winds of up to 30 mph in Minnesota.
One biker accidentally fell into a patch of cactus plants when he lost control of his bicycle.
A group of 30 cyclists who had traveled from Portland collected $779 along the way from people who signed the names of their towns on the bills.
The money was presented to Anne Holmes, director of the Dinner Program for Homeless Women, during a news conference yesterday in Rock Creek Park.
"This is a symbol that there are people who care about hunger and poverty," said Holmes.
"You experienced what it is like to be homeless," she told the cyclists.