Bob Higgins' lifelong goal has been to go cycling every day.
"Cycling is a passion," said the 66-year-old Huntley resident who will be riding next month in the 16th annual Tri-State Trek, a three-day, 270-mile charity cycling event. "I would do more of it, if I had more hours in the day. I love the outdoors. I love the freedom of cycling.
"And this particular cause is a motivation to do it even on the few days when I don't feel like riding."
This will be Higgins' fourth year participating in the charity event raising money to find a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a progressive neurological disease resulting in the death of nerve cells (motor neurons) in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscles.
More than 270 riders, including Higgins, participated in last year's event raising more than $800,000. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $7 million.
Proceeds benefit the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a nonprofit biotech working to discover and develop treatments for ALS.
This year's race begins June 22 at Boston College in Massachusetts and ends June 24 in Greenwich, Connecticut. The goal is to raise $1 million, Higgins said.
"My team alone raised $200,000 last year and we are shooting for $250,000 this year," said Higgins, a commercial real estate attorney with a firm in downtown Chicago.
Higgins began cycling in earnest around 1987. He used to train around the Hinsdale area where he lived for 30 years before moving last Thanksgiving to Sun City-Huntley.
Still working four days a week, Higgins does shorter rides -- about 15 miles predawn -- during work days within the Del Webb community and between 50 and 80 miles daily on weekends.
"I'm finding all kinds of new roads this year in and around the Huntley area ... riding west as far as Genoa and east to downtown Elgin and back," he said.
"I ride 4,000 to 5,000 miles a year, an average of 16 miles an hour."
Higgins' wife, Jo, tracks and monitors his trips via a phone app and comes to his rescue when a flat tire, some other emergency or inclement weather strikes.
"Without her support, I would never be able to do all this," he said.
"My children say she is my enabler. She keeps my clothes clean and my bottles filled."
Introduced to the Tri-State Trek by a client in 2015, Higgins now is part of "Team Bannon-Crush ALS" -- organized by siblings Lisa Bannon, an editor for The Wall Street Journal in New York, and Breen Bannon, a banker from Youngstown, Ohio, who lost a brother to ALS 11 years ago.
"I knew very little about ALS at that time," Higgins said.
"I entered because of my passion for cycling but I came out of it with a great desire to help these folks at the ALS TDI because of the wonderful work they do for ALS patients. They are constantly seeking new methods and research in order to find a cure for ALS."
Roughly 6,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year and an estimated 20,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, according to the ALS Association.
To support Higgins, visit his fundraising page tst.als.net/roberthiggins.
For information about riding, volunteering or donating, call (617) 441-7211 or visit TriStateTrek.com.