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Charles LePrevost knew his summer internship at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) would be different than most of his classmates’ internships, but he could not have predicted how adventurous nutrition and physical activity research could be.

LePrevost, who often goes by “Lepo,” is biking across in the United States as part of the Cycle20Ten Tour for ten weeks beginning June 13. Throughout this experience, he will do nutritional and policy research, raise funds for the UNC-Chapel Hill Lineberger Cancer Center, eat a lot, and get a lot of exercise.

LePrevost is a rising senior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health from Hickory, North Carolina. He is a health policy and management major.

“I could have gotten an internship in a hospital pushing paper, but this is a good opportunity to not be stuck in an office all day,” LePrevost said.

LePrevost’s project has three components, all related to policies and food accessibility in a variety of areas across the country.

In addition, LePrevost added that since he is most interested in the policy aspect of his major, he wanted to compare and contrast “bikeability”  and food access policies across ten norther states in the U.S.

He is on a bike trip after all.

“I’ll be assessing the bikeability of certain routes with a tool that a UNC professor made,” LePrevost said of his planned research. “When I return I’ll be looking at the same policy at the state level. I want to see if they correlate.”

In addition, in the second part of his research LePrevost will investigate the quality and healthfulness of food in rural convenience stores.

“In rural areas, a lot of residents don’t have the capabilities to go to a supermarket,” LePrevost said. “People have to depend on drug stores for food. I want to investigate what food is available in rural areas, like if there is whole wheat bread, skim milk and fresh produce.”

The third prong of LePrevost’s research will compare the cost and nutritional value of group meals and individual meals. LePrevost will compare group meals purchased by his fellow bikers at small grocery stories with meals purchased individually at convenience stores.

LePrevost will be recording his research and findings in his blog.

The group of 16 will be riding their bikes from the eastern coast of Maryland to Washington State in just ten weeks. Jonah Keyserling, son of Ammerman and HPDP faculty collaborator Tom Keyserling, and Aidan Kelley, son of HPDP staff member Alexandra Lightfoot, are also part of the team.

“We’re going to average 70 miles a day,” LePrevost said. “We’re just going to stay wherever. I have a wireless internet card so I can still use my computer to record research.”

In addition to the health promotion research, the group is also raising awareness and money for the UNC-Chapel Hill Lineberger Cancer Center throughout the ten week trip.

LePrevost likes that he’s biking to do his research as opposed to driving or flying.

“It’s definitely coming to the forefront of how unhealthy Americans are. I am emitting less carbon emissions and the daily exercise of biking is important,” he said

The leader of the biking trip, Brian Burnham, had asked him to go on the biking trip, LePrevost said, but he originally turned him down because he had already committed to the internship with Ammerman.

“Then a couple weeks later Alice approached me about her idea (to add in the research component).  She asked me about the idea and I was like, ‘why not?’”

LePrevost said that he is nervous about riding the 3700 miles.  He added that he’s never been much of a bike rider before this trip.

However, he’s excited about studying the different policies.

“Alice has always sup ported learning outside the box,” Leprevost said. “I could go drive around in my car, but this is such a good opportunity to get such a wide variety of information in such a short period of time. It just fits in with Alice’s style to support unstructured style of learning.”

Becky Bush, Communications Intern

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