Benedictine professor preparing for 9,000-mile bike ride around the U.S.
Craig Broeder is planning a little bicycle trip this year.
Well, maybe not so little. On May 15, the Benedictine University professor will take off on what he hopes will be a 9,000-mile trip to circumnavigate the United States on two wheels.
The bike ride will take him along the perimeter of the contiguous states in 100 days. His purpose is twofold: he is riding for a charitable cause and to fulfill a personal goal.
"It is actually pretty cool to ride a bike," Broeder said. "When you are on a bike that fits you properly, you are comfortable and as you go you see things you never see when driving along in a car looking out a tiny window. You have the wind in your face and you feel free."
Biking is more than a sport for the Naperville resident. Hailing from New Jersey, Broeder enjoys his healthy lifestyle and puts more miles a year on his bike - roughly 14,000 - than on his car. He trained the last several years in 100-degree heat in Texas, torrential rains in Illinois and along the paved-shoulder of inclines in Colorado.
Whatever the weather - thunderstorm, blazing sun or strong headwinds - Broeder is determined to pedal his way through more than 30 states.
He'll start his trek at the Lance Armstrong store, Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop, in Austin, Texas.
He then heads west to California and follows the coast north to Oregon and Washington. Across the top of the country, the ride goes east through Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota before dipping south to Illinois.
From Illinois, he cycles east to New York and the New England states before turning south to ride along the Eastern coastal states and circle into northern Florida. The final leg is west across the southern states to return to Texas on Aug. 25.
The biking enthusiast will ride a TitanFlex custom bike with a special seat and bar tailored to his weight and designed to take the bump out of the road while being kind to the lower spine.
A support crew will follow Broeder in a Toyota Highlander towing a Dooit Activity Trailer with sleeping accommodations and a spare bike. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. donated the SUV and Toyota of Naperville provided the graphics for the ride.
Broeder will take along extra wheels, tires, chains, brakes and general supplies. PureSport drinks donated 1,200 hydration packets for his use and John Hoppe of VacuMed gave $5,000 to cover additional costs.
"I will ride six to 10 hours a day on average," he said. "The shortest is 89 miles in one day and my longest ride is 142 miles in a day," Broeder said.
The idea for such an ambitious trip began 20 years ago when Broeder's wife, Kay, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer early in their marriage. He promised himself to someday raise awareness and dollars for ovarian cancer research. He also wanted the event to be a personal challenge.
"I knew I could ride across the United States if I paced myself," Broeder said. "What I wanted to do is pick something that left an amount of doubt with me similar to what a cancer patient goes through with losing hair, new treatments, going up and then down and cancer reoccurrence. I needed to do the event as a solo with a support team, because no matter who you are when you hear the word 'cancer,' it is an individual event even with a great medical team. No one feels exactly what you feel in the fight to survive."
Broeder also faced his own medical problem when he lost a large part of his hearing as a young man hoping for a career as a jazz musician. An unexpected visit from a friend helped him find a religious strength to persevere. His faith still sustains his passion to make a difference.
Broeder moved on, changing his career path to study exercise physiology. He is now the program director of the master of science clinical program at Benedictine University in Lisle.
The two-year program demands a considerable commitment and motivation from students that is no less than Broeder expects from himself.
The 9,000-mile ride is Broeder's way to honor his wife and her 20-year survival. She has moved from a survivor to being a "thriver," he said.
Together the couple founded the Kay & Craig Broeder Preventative Health Female Cancer Foundation. Its logo is a teal cancer ribbon proudly riding on a pair of wheels. Krystal Barrett, the acting associate director of print communications at Benedictine University, designed the eye-catching logo.
"We hope to raise enough money through this event not only to raise female-related cancer awareness in young people, but to fund preventive health and nutrition behavior research focusing on exercise and nutritional interventions," Broeder said.
More than seeing the countryside and national points of interest, Broeder also looks forward to meeting 1 million people.
From each person, he hopes to receive one dollar for the foundation's cancer research and services. The $1 million will go a long way in fighting ovarian cancer and sparing other couples from the ordeal.
To donate to the nonprofit Broeder Foundation, contact the American College of Sports Medicine at acsm.org or call (317) 637-9200, ext. 163. To read Broeder's daily journal around the country visit bicyclingforovariancancer.org.
Few will ever pedal their way around the USA, but we can be part of the effort by sending in a dollar.
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. Contact her at email@example.com.