Friday, August 9, 2013

Cyclists complete 1,900 mile-long ride for ALS

By Elizabeth Morgan

A few months ago, The Clearwater Tribune ran an article submitted by Dee Burgett of Lenore. In the article, her son, Eric Hyde, 42, and his friend, Jared Gibson, 31, both of Colorado Springs, CO, were just beginning their 1,900-mile journey, still in their first week of an anticipated three to four week bike ride from Colorado Springs to Edinboro, PA.

Their journey was to generate awareness and donations for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research. ALS is a progressive disease of the central nervous system which causes the gradual degeneration of nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement.

In Sept. 2012, Hyde's stepfather, David M. Burgett, died from ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

In the last days of David Burgett’s fight with ALS, Eric Hyde had promised his step-father that he would somehow raise the public’s awareness, working toward finding a cure for others. And that’s exactly how the trip evolved.

Hyde and Gibson gave up their jobs to be able to make their journey. Hyde had been working in the electronics and wireless industry for the past 23 years. Gibson was in the insurance business.

The cyclists set off May 30 and spent the next 30 days en route to Edinboro, PA, where prior to living in Lenore, Burgett had been a longtime resident and served 25 years as a police officer.

Their route originated in Colorado Springs, traveling through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and finally to Pennsylvania. All but 500 miles of their 1,900 mile trip was along the Trans-America Trail. The Trans-America Trail begins in Astoria, OR, and ends 4,200 miles later in Yorktown, VA. By selecting their route along the trail, much of their trip spanned rural roads, allowing them to ride more safely and in less traffic.

At the end of each long day Hyde and Gibson would find themselves breaking out the two-man tent, camping in a park or perhaps sleeping in a church, fire hall or hostel. Only three nights along the way were spent in hotels to enable them to plan and prepare for the next portion of their trip and perhaps do a little laundry.

An average day may span a distance of 80 miles. It varied from day to day. One day they rode a distance of 130 miles another day they were only able to make 32 miles. the elements added to the challenge.

“The weather at times has been hard – hot, humid, pretty intense. The winds in Kansas were difficult,” claimed Hyde.

Apparently the hills in the Missouri Ozarks were no picnic. “The pitch and steepness of the hills combined with the heat and humidity were very taxing on us. We climbed nearly 15,000 feet in elevation in one day going up and down hills in the Ozarks,” added Hyde.

Eric Hyde set a goal of raising $2,000 along his journey for ALS and has made almost twice that amount when he and Gibson rode into Edinboro on June 29.

True to his word, Hyde gave of himself once again to help his family. In 2004, he donated one of his kidneys to his brother, Peter, who is doing well.

Hyde thanks the hospitality, support and generosity of all the many folks along the way. The end of the journey, he said was bittersweet. “Being away from normal society and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life has been good.”

A very fine tribute indeed, to Dave Burgett, as well as hope to those still waiting for a solution.

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