AUSTIN (KXAN) — Daniel Barousse is a full-time artist and furniture-maker living in Lafayette, Louisiana, so why did he spend nearly two weeks bicycling 800 miles across Texas? For him, it’s simple: to try to instill the same joy and passion that he feels in others.

His journey started with shoes when he was 11 years old. Barousse was at a new middle school, trying to find ways to fit in. The school required uniforms, so the only way to distinguish oneself was through shoes, and he noticed that the “cool kids” all wore Doc Martens. So he asked his parents for a pair for Christmas, but they said no.

Fast-forward about two months, Barousse bought his first skateboard with the previous summer’s worth of his weekly $2 allowance that he’d saved up.

It was $23 and some change, and I had $21 from saving up all summer, because my allowance was $2 a week, and I think I’d kind of gone crazy at the gas station one day and bought a bunch of like quarter snacks, Little Debbie Snacks. So I had $21, I had to borrow $2 and some change from my friend’s grandfather, and I bought my first skateboard.

That was in October, and whenever December came around, I didn’t care about what shoes those kids were wearing. I didn’t care if they liked me. I didn’t care that I was the short kid in school, that girls didn’t like me. I didn’t care that I was the poor kid and wasn’t a rich kid or cool.

I straight up didn’t care. I was so happy.

I found something that gave me so much joy that I didn’t care about anything anymore. I was like, I don’t care. I don’t care to look like you guys. I found my own thing.

That’s ultimately what I’m trying to give to kids.

That’s where it stems from, Barousse recalled. He said he loves riding his bike, and so if he can ride it for a good cause and give that feeling of happiness that skating gave him – even just to one kid – then it’s worth it, he said.

The bicycle tour, called the ‘Heart of Texas Tour,’ spanned just over 800 miles across five Texas cities, involved seven skate shops, a car wreck, two flat tires, and “more beauty than I [Barousse] can convey via words,” Barousse said in an Instagram post. The goal is to raise $45,000 to give 1,000 skateboards to kids in Texas, which will happen with the help of skate shops in the cities Barousse stopped in.

About six months of planning and a few sponsors – including Redbull, Priority Bicycles, and Element Skateboards – went into it.

This is the second bicycle tour he’s done, and it won’t be the last. The first one was called ‘Rukus to Relief,’ where Barousse biked from Lafayette, Louisiana to Panama City, Florida. Rukus Skate Shop, Relief Skate Supply, and Barousse partnered up to make it happen, resulting in 150 skateboards per shop that were donated kids.

Barousse started in Houston, and after biking around the city, rode to San Antonio. Then to Austin from there, and then to Fort Worth to Dallas. So far, around $25,000 has been raised, he said.

He said he chose Texas because he previously lived in Austin for five years and has existing relationships with skate shops in and around Central Texas. He said he also knew he’d be able to “do a lot of good” in the state.

The skate shops involved in the tour hosted giveaways to help raise money toward Barousse’s $45,000 goal. No Comply in Austin was one of those shops. They hosted a giveaway that involved three prizes. The raffle ends on Nov. 15.

Elias Bingham, a founder and co-owner of No Comply, has known Barousse for years. “It’s amazing to see him take the initiative to raise and donate 150 skateboards to the communities around each of the skate shops,” he said.

No Comply is going to work with some local groups to donate the skateboards they’ll receive. Bingham said they’re planning to donate them through a foster home and the Parks Department.

Priority Bicycles made a custom bike for each shop and donated the bicycles to be a raffle prize at the shops.

The shops that participated are listed below:

  • Select Skate Shop: Houston
  • Southside Skate Shop: Houston
  • Geometric Skate Shop: Houston
  • Deli Skate Supply: San Antonio
  • Magnolia Skate Shop: Fort Worth
  • The Point Skate Shop: Dallas
  • No Comply: Austin

Challenges

The ride wasn’t all smooth sailing for Barousse. In his third mile of his third day, he got hit by a car. Fortunately, he said, he wasn’t really injured, just shaken up. He was able to get his bike fixed at a local shop that day, and ride 50 more miles.

Those 50 were scary, though, Barousse explained.

“I’m not gonna lie that 50 miles after getting hit by the car was really spooky. It was just scary. Like I kind of had PTSD almost. Every time I’d cross an intersection, or cross the street, or go somewhere with cars… I was kind of nervous. But I just looked at it like skateboarding. Like, you take a slam, and then you get back up and you go, so that’s what I did. It was hard, and I overcame it.”

Strong Central Texas winds also posed a challenge.

“Day 9 was absolutely the hardest day of the trip,” Barousse said in an Instagram post. He was riding from Temple to Cleburne, on his way to Fort Worth, facing 22-25 mph headwinds, and 45 mph wind gusts. It took around 12 hours to finish the 100-mile stretch. He described the day in another post as “one of the toughest days of my life.”

So it was just a super, super, super long day of nonstop pedaling. And it was relentless hills.

But the whole time I knew I was going to do it like… I’ve done this before. And when you get that like iron willpower, where you’re just like, you almost look at it as a job, because it kind of is. I looked at it as like my job, and like I have to do this like this isn’t there’s no not finishing. So there was no like doubt that I was not going to finish.

But it was really hard that day.

Best moments

When asked what his favorite moments of the journey were, Barousse responded with two instances. Both involved the role nature played along the way.

The sunset the evening of the day he was hit by a car reminded him how grateful he was. “I was just really thankful and grateful to be where I was at; to not be in a hospital bed, to be well enough to be able to finish, you know, hopefully finish my journey.”

Barousse said that was a sunset he’d never forget.

A few days later, in the middle of nowhere, it was like a scene out of a movie. Barousse was listening to piano when he witnessed a deer run parallel to him for a few minutes. He said it was like magic.

Sometimes the simplest things connect us to the big picture.

He also highlighted on his Instagram account the times that he got to spend skating and catching up with friends.

Barousse finished the tour despite many reasons to stop, he said.

“800 miles in and after getting hit by a car, encountering problems, hitting mental and physical barriers, taking some hefty slams while skating throughout and everything else that didn’t want me to finish….I pushed through it all and came out on top and for that I’m just super grateful,” he said on Instagram. “I’ll say this till I’m blue in the face; ANYONE CAN DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS AND EVERYONE SHOULD TRY! I am beyond grateful to be here at the finish line. Now it’s on to the next life mountain.”