by Skylar Ryan-Grant
Living in a coastal enclave like we do in Ventura, it can sometimes feel like the world is happening somewhere out there–out where the adventure is, out where people are making a difference on a larger scale. But we don’t have to look very far for inspiration. Galvanized by the spirit and beauty of Ventura itself, lifetime local, Chris Figureida, has been an adventurer making a big difference for a long time now.
A modern-day Indiana Jones, Chris’s resume is almost more than can be believed–the sort of thing any kid might imagine of growing up to be. Chris has ridden his bike from the highest geographical point to the lowest in both Africa (Lake Assal, Djibouti, to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania) and in North America (Death Valley, California and Nevada, to Denali, Alaska). He solo-climbed the Polish Traverse, the 22841-foot peak of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest geographical point outside of Asia, and the highest point in both the Southern and Western Hemisphere–and he did so after biking across all of Argentina just to get there. Living out adventures many have only dreamed of, he has hiked to Machu Picchu, ridden elephants in Thailand, and camped in the wilderness of the Serengeti.
But just as we don’t have to look far for inspiration in Chris Figureida, he didn’t have to look far for his. With untouched beaches, the Los Padres Mountain Range, Channel Islands National Park, and miles of biking and hiking paths, Ventura is an adventurer’s paradise–a miniature world-map where you can cycle, trek, paddle, and climb all year round. From this home-base, Chris grew up with the healthy lifestyle that laid the groundwork for his future adventures, an opportunity he acknowledges he was incredibly lucky to have. “I know that’s not the case for many kids,” says Chris.
With this perspective in mind, Chris decided to make a difference in a more direct way. Starting in 2007, he embarked on his first Cycle for Heart for the American Heart Association, a cross-country biking trip aimed at educating kids about cultivating a healthy lifestyle and raising awareness about the crisis of childhood obesity and heart disease. The two-month-long trip spanned a total of 3,746 miles from Ventura, California to Lubec, Maine. Along the way, Chis organized sponsors, spoke to elected and government officials at state capitols and city halls, and stopped in at countless schools to talk about his mission. Since 2007, Chris has completed the trip 11 times and has reached a total of 72,000 students in 49 states about living a physically active life.
For his efforts, Chris has been recognized by half a dozen state capitols, Congress, and the White House. Ever the explorer, in his next Cycle for Heart, he’ll be changing things up–biking and paddling across all six Hawaiian Islands in one big push.
At only 36 years old, that’s a remarkable life to achieve. But, in the spirit of a true Ventura local, the first thing you will be struck by is Chris’s humility. His down-to-earth passion for adventure, health, and making a difference is an archetype of the culture we know and love in our little slice of the world. Lucky to grow up inspired by the lifestyle here in Ventura County, we are lucky to in turn be inspired by Chris. We look forward to seeing his many adventures to come.