At age 68, Jeanne Powers of Haslett, Mich., is riding from Los Angeles to Boston in hopes of raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Powers has finished a marathon and many 5K and 10K races, as well as two sprint triathlons, but she said bicycling is her first love. “I’ve done a number of bicycle tours, including the Great Mississippi Ride in 2008 and the Ride around Lake Michigan in 2001,” she said. She admits, however, her latest conquest will be a “big challenge.” Courtesy photo
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
The winds of Wednesday had eased slightly by Thursday, and with that gradual deduction in speed, a group of cyclists made their way into Liberal.
Among the group from CrossRoads Cycling Adventures was a 68-year-old Michigan rider making her way from California to Massachusetts as part of a 3,400-mile trek to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Jeanne Powers left Los Angeles on May 12, and she plans to arrive in Boston on June 28. She said while many of her fellow riders are also fundraising, all such efforts are made by each individual on their own part.
“It’s a commercial tour,” she said. “You sign up for it. You pay for it. If you want to do fundraising on the side, you do.”
Powers’ ride got off to a hot start weather wise after the rider had a cold spring in her home state.
“I wasn’t really prepared for the heat, but you acclimate after a time and it gets easier,” she said.
The warm conditions have continued for Powers as she made her way from California to Kansas.
“We started in Los Angeles and went through Arizona and New Mexico, a little bit of Texas and now Oklahoma and into Kansas,” she said.
Powers said she experienced steep climbs early on in the journey, particularly in New Mexico’s mountain country.
“There was a lot of steep climbing, but beautiful scenery,” she said. “Now, we’re in the plains states, a little flatter, a little windier, but no rain so far.”
Powers’ route is chosen by CrossRoads Cycling, and while she could have chosen other tour groups to travel with, she said this one allowed her to see as many states as possible.
“I picked the longest tour I could find,” she said. “I get 12 of the states out of this.”
Powers has a great nephew with CF, and she said this provided her with the inspiration to go cycling across America.
“He was diagnosed with it as a baby,” she said. “He had a lung removed when he was 2 years old. He’s just been fighting it all of his life. He’s really an inspiration.”
Powers said her nephew does whatever he needs to do to keep active.
“He takes very good care of himself, and his parents took care of him when he was a child,” she said. “He does everything. He played basketball in high school. He played baseball when he was a kid in Little League. It’s just amazing the things he does considering how sick he is.”
Powers has set a goal to raise $100,000 through her riding efforts, a goal she admits is somewhat lofty.
“I don’t know that I’ll even get close to that, but I figure if you’re going to set a goal, you might as well set a high goal,” she said.
Donations can be made to Powers’ cause at www.jpsrideforcf.com, and the cyclist said there are other ways people can help in addition to money.
“Even if they don’t want to donate, if they want to follow the ride, that’d be great,” she said. “There’s a Facebook page with that same name where they can follow my adventure.”
Thus far, Powers has raised $3,600, but she said that number should get bigger soon.
“It’s starting to increase a little bit now that the ride is under way,” she said. “I started fundraising back in February or March.”
While many may find it difficult to undertake an effort such as Powers’ at age 68, she said making the long trek is “not as hard as you think.”
“I’ve been pretty active all my life,” she said. “I got into doing triathlons a couple years ago. That keeps me training year around. For this particular ride, I did a lot of training in my basement on a trainer because of the rotten weather. I used hill training videos to get me ready for the hills. I couldn’t do them all at the start, but I really think it helped me to do that.”
What is cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States and 70,000 worldwide.
A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs to life-thretening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
Source – www.jpsrideforcf.com