Josh Nagy ’26 bikes across the country with his father to raise awareness for those facing housing insecurity
This past summer, before beginning his first year at Conn, Josh Nagy ’26 spent two months on a cross-country cycling expedition with his father, Carl Nagy. Their goal: to raise money for organizations tackling homelessness and housing insecurity.
“There are tons of studies that show that if you don’t have a stable place to live, it’s really hard to get the rest of your life in order, no matter what you do,” said Nagy. So, the Bostonian hatched a plan: he and his father would bike across the United States to raise funds for homelessness charities.
“For the homeless, there is no time for being the best version of themselves,” Nagy said. “I wanted to do something about this incredible loss of human potential, and I thought there would be no better way than by exploring the beautiful country that is allowing me to maximize my own.”
Given his longtime advocacy work and penchant for cycling, Carl agreed. The duo started their journey in Anacortes, Washington, just north of Seattle, and cycled about 80 miles per day. Their route was based on one designed by the Adventure Cycling Association, although the team “deviated from our itinerary a couple of times because there were a few shortcuts or there was a more scenic road.”
Nagy recalled some beautiful moments from the start of their trip. Descending Washington Pass in the Cascades was “like the alps—snowcapped mountains all around,” he said. In terms of views, Nagy added, “my favorite part was being in central Montana and having the Rockies in the distance behind us.”
An occasional family disagreement was inevitable.
“If one of us was annoyed, I would usually ride ahead for a little while,” Nagy said, laughing. But these disputes were few and far between, he added. During a more representative moment in North Dakota, “we just pulled over on the side of the road and found a little cove behind a tree. I remember laughing a lot, just having fun and really enjoying everything.”
The hardest part of the trip was not the physical strain.
“Anyone in decent shape could do what we did,” Nagy said. “But mentally, the idea that ‘I’m going to do this all day, and I’m going to do it for the rest of the week and then the rest of the two months—that’s a big thing.”
They also spent many hours thinking about the notion of being “away from home”—and the privilege of not having to worry about staying safe. This feeling was perhaps most prominent during a remarkably windy night camping in Montana.
“I was just thinking, wow, many people have to deal with something worse than this every single day,” recalled Nagy.
Coming home was a special moment. Being away for two months “gave me a better appreciation of the specific beauty of Massachusetts—the specific types of trees and plants and rivers that you don’t really see anywhere else,” said Nagy.
To date, Josh and Carl have raised approximately $12,000 through JustGiving, a web service that collects the donations and distributes them directly to the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Pine Street Inn, a Cambridge organization focused on offering shelter and affordable housing.
As for the trip, Nagy has two takeaways.
“Every part of our country is really so beautiful,” he said. And it is during your hardest moments that “you really learn a lot about yourself and what you’re capable of.”