Akron bicyclist Cassie Schumacher is geared up for the ride of her life.
In preparation of her big trip in support of veterans, Schumacher already has traveled 13,000 to 15,000 miles around Akron, Southeast Ohio and Tempe, Ariz.
Schumacher is taking part in the 3,000-mile Race Across America, in the solo women’s division. Her journey will start today in Oceanside, Calif. She will travel across 12 states, finishing in Annapolis, Md., in 10 to 12 days.
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” she said in a recent interview.
Schumacher will not race alone. She is being supported by a half-dozen crew members in two vans. The caravan includes an extra bike and spare parts.
A variety of fundraisers through her group, Wheels4 Change, has raised $30,000 to $35,000 to finance the trip and to raise money to support the nonprofit group she works with, Warriors’ Journey Home.
The trip is expected to cost about $20,000.
Schumacher, 40, a clinical counselor, is motivated to help veterans because her father, Robert Schumacher, is a Vietnam veteran.
On the back of a shirt she plans to wear as she rides 250 to 300 miles a day will be the words, “Remember Andy and all of our fallen heroes.” The shirt pays homage to Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew W. Nowacki, 24, of South Euclid, who was killed in Iraq on Feb. 26, 2005.
“I feel like I have a lot of amazing people who are cheering for me,” she said.
As part of her training, she finished the Adirondack 540, a 540-mile race last fall through the mountains of New York, in 45 hours and 19 minutes. She finished first among female racers and tied for second overall.
The final cut for the women’s solo race is 12 days and 21 hours, Schumacher said. She must complete the cross-country trek by that time or she will be disqualified.
She spent the last few days in Arizona to help get her body acclimated to the brutal heat she expects along the way.
On Memorial Day, she passed out 1,000 wristbands she bought in memory of Army Spc. Adam Hamilton, 22, of Kent, who was killed in Afghanistan a year earlier.
She also plans to donate about $2,500 to Valor Home, a shelter for homeless veterans being constructed in Akron. The money will help cover the cost of a meditation room.
And she hopes to donate another $10,000 for a trip to Vietnam for two war veterans next year.
She acknowledges that without the help of friends and family, pursuing this trip “would not be possible.”
She said her mission is to “bring attention to the needs of our veterans, their families and to not let those that didn’t make it home be forgotten.”
For information about Schumacher and her race or to donate to her cause, visit www.wheels4change.com.
For more about Warriors’ Journey Home, go to www.warriorsjourneyhome.com.
The website for the Race Across America is www.raceacrossamerica.org.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.