Friday, September 3, 2004

Pedal power fights cancer

Cyclists raise green from border to border


By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer

Next week, five Sun Valley bicycle riders have a rendezvous at Peace Arch State Park on the Canadian bor-der of Washington. From there the five rider ?peleton? will begin crank-ing an average of 100 miles per day 1,950 miles to Border Field State Park in San Diego, Calif., to raise money to contribute to the fight against cancer.

The border-to-border ride is a fundraising event for cancer research and a scholarship fund in honor of Tom Montgomery, a close friend of the cyclists and a former member of the X-Men cycling team who suc-cumbed to cancer last year in Ketchum.

A peleton is a group of cyclists who work together tackling wind, hills and weather in an effort to be the first to the finish. For this race the team hopes their efforts will help speed discovery of a cure for cancer.

The team members, consisting of Clint Lightner, Bill Rickard, Troy Turvy, Lars Erik-Johnson and Tory Canfield, are all endurance athletes who see the race as their personal mission in the race for the cure.

So far, the Sun Valley ?peleton project? has raised an average of $1,000 a month since the team put forth the plan 18 months ago for the border-to-border fundraising race. They are working in association with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which is dedicated to cancer research and improving the lives of cancer survivors

Armstrong, a cancer survivor and six-time Tour de France victor, was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 25. Given less than a 40 percent chance to live, Armstrong underwent aggressive treatment to beat the dis-ease, rolling on to more tour victories and pursuing cancer research fund-raising.

Armstrong has inspired the cy-cling community to do their part in the fundraising campaign to find a cure for cancer. In five years, the Peleton Project has raised over $5 million for the LAF. Every year peleton projects are held in many communities, which evolved out of interest on the part of cyclists around the world who wanted to join Arm-strong in his fight against cancer. The Sun Valley team will also raise money for the Tom Montgomery Cancer Fund.

Donors can choose which organi-zation they would like their donation to go to. Pledges to the Montgomery fund will go to building scholarship funds for children participating in Sun Valley Road and Dirt bicycling camps.

The riders hope excitement about their ride will help raise an additional $32,000 to help them reach their $50,000 goal by the end of the cy-cling season. Funds raised from a raffle of K2 bicycles at the finish of the Idaho State Cyclo-Cross Champi-onships Oct. 3 at River Run Lodge will also go toward the goal, but the team hopes to generate the majority of the funds during the border-to-border race.

Mirroring journals of Armstrong?s favorite race, the Tour de France, there will be daily updates of each stage of the 18-ay race on the team?s Web site, www.bordertoborder.org.

The idea for the homegrown event sprang out of Race Director Clint Lightner?s mind after he was sent to the couch with a devastating break to his lower leg during a Skitek Cup Master?s Downhill race at Soldier Mountain in 2003.

?I needed something to occupy my mind,? he said, explaining his ap-proach to reaching his physical and mental goals for recovery. ?It was also around the time Tom passed away.?

Not only did the group of friends lose a friend to cancer, but also the disease has hit even closer to home. Lightner?s own grandfather has been through a couple of episodes of che-motherapy to treat cancer.

?He gets tested every month,? Lightner said. ?He seems to have battled it for the second time.?

In addition to raising money for research, the LAF organizes programs to enhance the quality of life for those diagnosed with cancer. The LAF promotes ways to achieve the best possible physical, psychological and social recovery and care of cancer survivors and their loved ones, a goal Lightner, for one ,can personally relate to.

The border-to-border riders have lined up a sag wagon to support the team so all five riders can ride the entire distance, from Canada to Mex-ico.

Lightner said his own infirmary has come along way in the last year and a half.

?It is achy with a limited range of motion, but considering the injury for the most part it turned out OK,? he said. When the team hits the road Sept. 7, they expect the ride to be a good experience and hope the effort will help them make the greatest pos-sible contribution to the greater fight against cancer.




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