Paul and Cathy Rogers of Moon are biking across the country to bring attention to the poor air quality in Allegheny County.
By Kathleen Ganster
Paul and Cathy Rogers of Moon will be huffing and puffing as they bike ride across America. And that is one reason they are doing the ride — to bring attention to the quality of air in Allegheny County.
“The recent statistics from the American Lung Association and the University of Pittsburgh that indicate Allegheny County is in the top 2 percent in the U.S. for cancer risk from our pollution are startling,” Mr. Rogers said. “I looked at them and thought, ‘What can we do?’ ”
Mr. Rogers, an accounting professor at Beaver County Community College, also wanted to complete a big cycling event before his 60th birthday. He is 59.
So he partnered his love of cycling with his concern about air pollution and signed on for the Big Ride Across America, a cycling trip organized by the American Lung Association that departed Monday from Seattle, Washington, and will end in about six weeks in Washington, D.C. The ride will cover 3,300 miles.
Before they left on their trip, Mr. Rogers said he decided to do the ride about 18 months ago and had registered for the 2013 ride. Then, Mrs. Rogers said she wanted to go.
An avid cyclist before she met her husband, Mrs. Rogers is owner and president of Aero Tech Design Inc., a manufacturer of cycling clothing based in Coraopolis.
“I told him that we were supposed to bike across the country together, but I couldn’t get into shape that fast. I told him if he waited a year, I would do it with him,” she said.
So, they trained.
The couple usually biked together, riding 150 to 200 miles a week prior to the trip. They also did spinning in the winter months when they couldn’t hit the road. Mrs. Rogers also takes hot yoga, an exercise performed in hot and humid conditions.
Mr. Rogers studied their nutritional needs for the ride and lined up the amount of carbohydrates and proteins they needed to take in each day to keep going.
“They say we will need between 6,000 and 8,000 calories a day when we are riding like that,” he said.
The couple departed for Seattle on Sunday and started the Big Ride Across America the next day. Each day, they will travel 85 to 112 miles, with a break about every five or six days. They are among 16 riders.
The American Lung Association is providing meals, transportation for tents and other gear, and a mechanic who doubles as an EMT and provides water and snacks. Mr. Rogers said the riders will carry gear needed for the day and are expected to be able to change flat tires and make minor repairs.
“We will also stay at a few universities along the way and have a chance to do laundry and things like that on our rest days,” he said.
Each rider had to raise $7,000 for the American Lung Association to participate. Aerotech sponsored Mrs. Rogers. A week before the trip, Mr. Rogers had raised $7,500 and he hopes to meet his goal of $10,000 by the end of the ride.
Mr. Rogers said he didn’t tell his students about his trip but is looking forward to sharing his adventure with them in the fall. He said he hopes to deliver talks when he returns home. Both Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Rogers will be blogging about their experiences.
Mrs. Rogers had to arrange for her leave of absence from her business.
“Being away for 2½ months has me extremely nervous, but this is a dream come true for me,” she said.
The Big Ride Across America will cross Pennsylvania in late July, passing through Washington and Confluence from July 27 to 29, then going through Bedford and Gettysburg.
The Rogers’ three adult children, Theodore, Benjamin, and Elizabeth, are also cyclists, and they hope to be able to join their parents in Washington, D.C., and ride the last few miles.
This isn’t the first long ride for the couple. Mrs. Rogers cycled from her home in Florida along the coast to New England after she graduated from college, and the two have participated in rides across Wisconsin,Texas and other places, including Europe.
“Paul is always desperately seeking his youth, and this is a way for us to have a great experience together,” Mrs. Rogers said.
“We’ve never done anything of this magnitude before, but we have set the stage for success,” Mr. Rogers said. “And I want to put my stamp on the sport before I turn 60.”
To follow their journey: www.MrRogersBIGRIDE.Blogspot.com or like them on Facebook.
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