The team of bicycle racers who crossed America in June in under seven days will give Akron Children’s Hospital a check for $45,000 at noon today.
Ohio Cycleworks Charities, a team of eight riders, made it from California to Maryland in the Race Across America in six days, 18 hours and 33 minutes in June.
The racers put in $25,000 of their own money into the effort and collected pledges for the hospital.
“It was pretty amazing,” said team leader Brian Ray, 39, senior vice president of PNC Bank, of Akron, of the view of the American landscape.
The riders split into two four-man teams who each shared four hour shifts of 80 to 100 miles or so at a time, Ray said.
The money was raised as a way to thank the hospital for taking care of his son, Aidan, five years ago when he was treated for a benign cyst.
“I feel blessed beyond words to be able to make this type of contribution,” said Ray. “I have experienced their love and care personally, and know what this will be able to do for other families like mine.”
John Zoilo, executive director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation, called the work of the cyclists “pretty amazing.” He said their volunteer effort “is just another example of the love and admiration so many in this community have for children.”
Racing across the U.S., he said, “is something unique.”
The trek went smoothly, but Ray, the primary owner of Ohio CycleWorks bike shop in Akron’s Merriman Valley, said, “We got lost a couple of times and probably were off course three or four times during the whole trip.”
Not only were there no major mechanical issues, but there also were no major medical issues.
Other participants in the race were: Shawn Aker, 30, a physical therapist from Akron; Jody Demaline, 32, a nuclear medicine account representative from North Olmstead; Michael Feichter, 38, a property claims adjustor from Cuyahoga Falls; Scott Garchar, 38, a division service manager from Akron; Matthew Geis, 34, an associate athletic director from Kent and Brian Zupancic, 36, a sales territory manager from Medina.
The riders trained for a year, logging 200 to 250 miles per week,
In May, they put in 600 miles in a trial run across West Virginia to Maryland.
The group hired cycle coach John Hughes of Colorado to help them prepare, Ray said.
The two hardest parts of the ride were in Kansas, where riders dealt with extreme heat and wind, and across the mountains in West Virginia.
The picture of America the riders were left with, Ray said, includes “amazing mountains, beautiful forests, barren land of Kansas, metropolitan areas.”
The team was accompanied by a crew of nine volunteers, including Ray’s parents, Bob and Carol Ray, of Fairlawn. Two doctors also accompanied the racers: Troy Smurawa from Akron Children’s Hospital and Jeremy Riehm from Indiana.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at email@example.com.