Woodstock natives Aaron and Nathan Cooper – known to their web audience as the EnduroBros – are preparing to embark on the third leg of their attempt to ride Enduro motorcycles to Ushuaia, Argentina, near the tip of South America.
Overcoming repeated equipment failures and several injuries during their last two attempts, the Coopers are making a third attempt to complete their journey, adding a new goal to their mission. They’ve dedicated this final leg of their journey to fundraising for Task Force Dagger, a nonprofit that supports special operations service members and their families.
A special ops veteran himself, Aaron Cooper’s inspiration for the trip was making up for lost adventures of his youth, since he enlisted and left for U.S. Army training when he was 17.
“I was thinking of how much of the world I haven’t seen,” he said.
He came up with the idea of riding a motorcycle as far south as he could.
Joined by his younger brother Nathan, Aaron Cooper left Woodstock Sept. 2, 2012, for what he hoped would be a three-month trip. A variety of setbacks forced them to suspend their journey on several occasions, but the kindness of the people they have met along the way has been a major factor in their decision to continue.
“The highlight of the trip has been the people who have helped us,” said Aaron Cooper, who explained that people helping people has surfaced as the theme of their adventure. He said people they have encountered have warmed his heart and restored his faith in humanity — people like the mechanically gifted stranger who took two days off work to help fix one of the motorcycles, or the Iguanas, a friendly biker gang they rode with in Honduras. There was the Colombian family who took their kitchen table out of the house so they could safely store Nathan Cooper’s damaged motorcycle after he suffered a serious injury in a crash, and the man they met at the hospital who they stayed with when Nathan was released.
No strangers to helping others themselves, the brothers each went on mission trips while they were in high school. Aaron Cooper said, “We believe that God put us on earth for a reason, and that’s to help people.”
They have sought to pay it forward whenever possible during their travels. They deferred travel for a week to volunteer at an orphanage to build a fence and help teach children there, and they painted a boat for the People of Peru project. They also visited a school in Costa Rica where a friend of theirs was a teacher, and Aaron Cooper spoke to the children about the significance of Veteran’s Day.
While back in the states, Aaron Cooper is taking classes at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, toward a sociology degree.
“I want to finish college, but I want to finish this, too,” he said. “My girlfriend said, ‘Don’t come back ’til you’re ready for this to be over.’”
They are having the top end of a motorcycle engine built by a friend here for Nathan’s bike and they plan to fly with the part to Lima, Peru, – where the bikes are waiting for them – and install it so they can ride on.
Their plan is to leave sometime in mid-February. Barring any major problems, Aaron estimates the trip should take about three months. However, he might extend that in order to reach their fundraising goal of $20,000 in donations to Task Force Dagger.
“I chose an achievable amount and doubled it,” said Aaron.
For details on how to support the Cooper brothers fundraising efforts or to follow their progress, visit their Facebook page, EnduroBros. For information about the organization, visit taskforcedagger.org. Their website is www.endurobros.com.