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updated: 7/25/2011 12:50 PM

Roselle man bikes cross-country for Huntington's disease

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  • Patrick Dimpsey, a Roselle college sophomore, biked for 50 days from New Jersey to San Francisco. The journey totaled more than 3,600 miles and ended Sunday, July 3.

      Patrick Dimpsey, a Roselle college sophomore, biked for 50 days from New Jersey to San Francisco. The journey totaled more than 3,600 miles and ended Sunday, July 3.
    Courtesy of Patrick Dimpsey

  • Roselle college student Patrick Dimpsey biked across the country with seven friends, who each took a leg of the journey, to raise money and awareness for Huntington's disease. The boys' unofficial nonprofit group, Camp Earth, raised between $7,000 and $8,000 for the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

      Roselle college student Patrick Dimpsey biked across the country with seven friends, who each took a leg of the journey, to raise money and awareness for Huntington's disease. The boys' unofficial nonprofit group, Camp Earth, raised between $7,000 and $8,000 for the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
    Courtesy of Patrick Dimpsey

 
By Megan Bannister
mbannister@dailyherald.com

This summer, 19-year-old Patrick Dimpsey and his friends decided to take a different type of cross-country road trip.

There would be no woes about high gas prices, significantly less trunk space and no windshield wipers.

Each would complete the trek on only two wheels: his bike.

"I don't have a really good story," Dimpsey said. "I woke up one morning and said this would be fun to do."

He does, however, have a good cause.

Accompanied by seven friends, the Roselle college student embarked on a 50-day bike trip from coast to coast to raise money and awareness for Huntington's disease.

"One of our friends, his family has been dealing with the disease for a while now," Dimpsey said.

Huntington's is a genetic disease that causes nerve cells in the brain to degenerate, causing memory loss, personality changes and abnormal body movements. In 2005, the boys' friend lost his father to Huntington's disease.

"His brother now has it," Dimpsey said. "And both our friend and his younger brother have a 50 percent chance of getting it."

As a rallying point, the friends formed Camp Earth, an unofficial, nonprofit group that the boys sold T-shirts and wristbands for throughout their trip.

With the help of firstgiving.com, Camp Earth raised between $7,000 and $8,000 for the Huntington's Disease Society of America, Dimpsey said.

Dimpsey was home from college five days before heading out to Sandy Hook, N.J., to start his journey Saturday, May 14, with Tim Fergus.

Though he had extensively charted a course for the cross-country trip, Dimpsey said he did not expect to adhere to the routes the entire time.

"Basically, whatever I planned, we hardly followed any of it," Dimpsey said.

With closed roads and impassible trails, the boys often were forced to improvise.

"It was pretty much, you find a road that goes west and take it," Dimpsey said.

It rained every day during the first week of the ride, Dimpsey recounted, posing a challenge for the teens riding between 60 and 130 miles regardless of weather conditions.

"It was the best feeling in the world to have dry socks," said Dimpsey, who blogged throughout the trip.

Although Dimpsey initially hoped to find one person to complete the entire ride with him, he instead convinced seven different friends each to take a leg of the journey.

As they traveled across the country with Dimpsey pulling a trailer full of supplies, the boys camped in the yards of hospitable strangers or in the homes of friends.

"There were people we knew along the way where we were able to stay," Dimpsey said. "Sometimes it was someone's cousin's something, just very random relationships with people, but we took whatever we could get."

Especially when it came to indoor plumbing, the Roselle teens weren't picky.

"A shower was more than welcome," Dimpsey said.

Steve Krauss, an incoming sophomore at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., completed the final leg of the journey with Dimpsey from Salt Lake City to San Francisco.

"I didn't think it was too hard physically," said Krauss, a track and cross country runner. "If I was carrying a trailer like Patrick was, it probably would have been."

After traveling for 50 days over 3,600 miles, Dimpsey completed his ride Sunday, July 3, with his father and Krauss in San Francisco.

"It was definitely a mental challenge," Krauss said. "Getting up every day in the morning and knowing you have 70 to 100 miles to bike, just getting started is hard."

Though Krauss is not a cycling enthusiast, Dimpsey bought a racing bike a few years ago after becoming interested in bicycling.

In the fall, Dimpsey will be a sophomore at Winona State University in Winona, Minn., where he is a member of the ultimate Frisbee and cycling teams.

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