More than 3,400 miles divide Seattle from Atlantic City a formidable chunk of road to ride over in car, let alone hunched over the handle bars of a touring bike.
Yet, for hundreds of cyclists preparing for the second annual Trans-American Bicycle Trek, pumping 75 miles a day for 47 days will be the ultimate summer vacation. For the American Lung Association, it means more than $2 million to help prevent, cure and control such diseases as lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma."It's the adventure of a lifetime," said Gay Saunders, executive director of the American Lung Association of Utah.
Billed as the "largest coast-to-coast bicycle fund-raising event ever held in the United States," the cross-country odyssey will take participants on a northern route from the shores of the Pacific through the rugged Cascade Mountains, northeast across the panhandle of Idaho to Glacier National Park in Montana, along the ceiling of the nation to Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and on to the Eastern seaboard.
The lung association will furnish participants with breakfasts and dinners, accommodations, mobile bike shops, maps, transportation for personal gear all the staff and services required for the long distance trek.
Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $5,000 in pledges through corporate and private donations. The lion's share of the funds raised will stay in the cyclists' own community to help fight lung disease.
Last year's inaugural TransAmerican Bicycle Trek topped the $1 million goal, raising more than $1.26 million for lung association programs and services nationwide as nearly 200 adventurous bicycle trekkers completed the cross-country journey. Last year's 193 cyclists represented the largest group ever to ride cross-country together on bicycles.
With a goal of 300, the lung association already has more than 260 cyclists registered and gearing up for this year's ride.
"It's an ambitious goal but, believe me, there are a lot of ambitious bicyclists who wouldn't miss the chance to be a part of this event," Saunders said. "The reasons for wanting to do this vary, but the challenge and being a part of an historical experience, which most will carry with them for the rest of their lives, are heard most often."
To claim one of the last remaining spots for this year's event, call 484-4456 or write to the American Lung Association of Utah, 1930 S. 11th East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106.