May 8, 2016 is rapidly approaching. That is the first day of our long planned for bicycle ride from Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles) to Boston, Mass. The trip ends June 24th. That’s 50 days!! Yeah –crazy is a good description. Hey, we do have 5 full days of rest. It’s a “BIG” adventure no matter how you dissect it.
So how did I get here? If you are reading this Blog you either know me from my career as a Family Physician, or through contact with my wife, Denise and our 3 children Maren, Shannon and Keith. Or maybe we have gotten to know each other since the births of Maren and her husband Tyler’s 2 children , and our cute grandchildren- Addie and Ryland. For a few of you, the relationship extends to my roots in Drexel Hill, Pa.
On December 31, 2012 I retired after 30 years with North Coast Family Medical Group in Encinitas, California. In addition, I conducted clinical research trials for 18 years while also acting as a Family Physician. My final date of retirement was September 2015. I always wanted to retire in time and in good health to undertake a few “things” I have been putting on the back burner. This ride is one of them! Just before I retired from NCFMG, Tracy Moran, a reporter for the Coast News in Encinitas, did an interview with me. If you want to read Tracy’s article here is the link:
Medical missionary work was always on my list of dreams . In 2014, along with my daughter Shannon and my good friend Pat Davis DDS, we traveled to Peru and spent an eye-opening week at the Safe Haven Medical Clinic, which is part of the “Children of the Amazon“ missionary health program. We assisted members of the local medical and dental community at the clinic in Iquitos near the Amazon River.
That week at the clinic was followed by an 8-day hike with Pat’s wife Julie, and two other good friends—Kevin and Debbie McCauley starting near Cusco that traced one of the Inca trails (the Salkantay Trek) leading to Machu Picchu. During that trip the seeds for this bicycle adventure were sewn. Shannon was a great fill in for my wife, Denise, who trained for the hike but had to pass on it as a result of a tick bite related illness. All of us survived the hike, which was a first class trip run by the Mountain Lodges of Peru. If you ever want to go, check out their web page:
During that hike Kevin reminded me of a conversation we had years ago about our shared dream of riding across the USA. Pat wanted nothing of the grind—obviously dentists are by nature much smarter than physicians and general contractors!! The big “adventure” was hatched!
It’s no small task to train for a trip like this. In the past, I have done some 5 to 7 day-long rides with my long time friend Ron Demery. We did our rides when we were MUCH, MUCH younger but when the final decision was made that Kevin and I were going to ride across the USA I called Ron. Now understand our last ride together was a trip around the Big Island of Hawaii in 1995. After that, Ron put his bike on the back patio and I think it rusted into a piece of abstract art! With a new bike, he is joining us for the “adventure” starting in Illinois.
In addition to the “adventure” Kevin and I are also hoping to raise at least $40,000 for a local Encinitas based charity—Team Godfather Charitable Foundation. Mike Ramirez and his family and several of his very close friends created team Godfather shortly after Mike was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2009. It takes a special type of person and family to step back when diagnosed with a serious and always devastating disease and ask what they can do to help others and themselves understand and contribute to the fight and work for a cure. Mike started this charity and his personality drew others to the cause.
Learn more about Mike at:
I never had a chance to meet Mike before he passed away in 2012, but with the encouragement of Kevin, I became involved in the effort to raise funds for ALS research. I was asked to join the bike4Mike committee that puts on a fun bike ride each Fall to raise awareness and funds for research into ALS. Bike4Mike is one of several events sponsored by Team Godfather Charitable Foundation Take a look at their website if you have time:
Research is right up my alley and the people involved in this Foundation have been passionate about carrying Mike’s mission forward. The donations we raise from people like you who enjoy and follow this blog will go to Team Godfather who will then direct those donations to ALS TDI (Therapy Development Institute) based in the Boston area. This is the world’s first non-profit biotech institute that is 100% focused on ALS and developing new treatments thru research.
Here is their website if you want more on their mission:
So now you know a little bit about me and how I got to this point and why this ride is so important. It will certainly stretch me physically, mentally and no doubt spiritually. But, at the same time, I can’t wait to share the “adventure” with each of you. If you have always wanted to do such a ride but don’t have the time right now—here we go! I hope I can inspire you when the time does come to take a risk and do the things you always dreamed of. I hope to set an example for my children and their children that says loud and clear that one’s age isn’t what limits us-it might slow us-but if we keep looking for that next adventure, some how it just seems to appear. Just as important to me is my hope that this trip will create an interest and opportunity for each of us to learn more about ALS, and to raise awareness and dollars–for research. There is so much being done and so much more that is needed to overcome this devastating disease. Every local community based group like ours is helping. Every penny, nickel, dime or fixed amount of money we can all raise will go to ALS research directly.