April 4, 2012
Spring, a time for training and planning summer bike trips. This year, all my time and energy is devoted to the bike trip of a lifetime — for my youngest son, Mac.
Mac (pictured above, far right) is almost seventeen years old, a junior in high school, and he's embraced our car-free lifestyle with barely a whimper. In fact, last fall when we began talking about senior projects, he announced that he wanted to bike across the U.S. with his best friend, Drew -- a self-contained, adults-not-welcome bike tour.
My husband and I laughed and thought, "Oh yeah, sure..." but they kept after it. When January hit and the boys still determined, we decided it was time to get serious about this idea. We elicited the support and expertise of Adventure Cycling Tours Director Arlen Hall (pictured above kneeling) to help plan logistics and prepare the boys physically and emotionally for the trip.
Since this trip is also their senior project, the boys decided to ride for a cause. Mac and Drew began searching for ideas only to realize they had a perfect person to ride for, right in here in Missoula, MT.
Meet Cory Stalling (pictured above, far left), an active eleven-year-old full of incredible energy, life, and a love of nature. Cory has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a degenerative muscular disorder that mostly affects boys. There is no cure and most are wheelchair bound by the age of eleven. Cory is supported by his amazing extended family and a long list of friends. Mac and Drew are honored to be riding for Cory, since he will never be able to make a trip like this himself. They have named their ride, "A Bike Story for Cory" and have created a website and logo around this theme.
After three months of planning, organizing, and parental negotiating, the plan has gone through several versions, from a cross-country, completely self-contained trip, to a hybrid plan that combines a self-contained trip (using a combination of the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail and the Northern Tier) across half the continent, and meeting up with an organized fundraising tour, the JettRide, with other teens for the other half of the trip. Leaving Seaside, Oregon, on Memorial Day, Mac, Drew, and another JettRide leader, Ty Miller, will cross the western half of the U.S. self-contained. Arlen, myself, and my husband will periodically ride and/or SAG support the trip. In Minneapolis the group will join the JettRide -- a fundraising ride for the Jett Foundation, which raises money to support research and find a cure for DMD. JettRide departs July 1 for Point Pleasant, NJ, ending on August 3. Riders on the JettRide will participate in a number of public and media events with DMD families to draw attention and awareness to DMD.
Mac will carry a GPS unit so Cory will be able track the trip's progress. This way, he can participate in his own way. Cory will also have the opportunity to celebrate the finish in Point Pleasant when he and his Aunt Laurie fly in for the ceremonial dipping of bike tires in the Atlantic Ocean!
Considering what I do and where I work, I never thought my child would have the opportunity to ride across the country before me. It shows how unpredictable and circular life can be. It also makes me realize that when you really want to do something, you just have to buckle down and get it done.
Our families owe a great deal of gratitude to Salsa Cycles for sponsoring the bikes, Hellgate Cyclery for building them, and a growing list of business and personal donors. Thank you! I am a proud parent (worried too -- after all I am a mom).
Photo by Arlen Hall.
CONNECTIONS is posted by Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling's special projects director and features the cultural, historical, geographical, and human connections created through bike travel. Find out about our award-winning Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.