Big Ride cyclists stop in New Ulm

NEW ULM-A 57-year-old Pittsburgh, PA woman who described herself as a “casual cyclist” was among eleven people who stopped in New Ulm this weekend while riding across the United States to benefit the American Lung Association (ALA).

Cathy Rogers is part of the Big Ride Across America, a seven-week, 3,300-mile ride from Seattle to Washington, D.C., through 12 states, to raise money for life-saving ALA research, education and advocacy programs.

Ride stopping points include Spokane, Wash., Missoula and Billings, Mont., Sheriden, Gillette and Newcastle, Wyo., Rapid City, Kadoka, Pierre, Miller and De Smet, S.D., Owatonna, Winona, Madison, Wis., Sandusky, Ohio, Bedford and Gettysburg, Pa., and Clarksville, Md., among others.

Cyclists stop every 20 or 30 miles for food and drink. They usually rise at five or six a.m., pack their gear, fill water bottles, review their route map and eat.

From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., they’ll ride and eat sandwiches they made in camp and stop at cafes on the route. From 3 to 6 p.m., they’ll shower, set up tents, do bike maintenance and rest. From 6 to 8 p.m., they’ll eat, swap stories with riders and discuss the next day’s route before going to sleep.

Rogers, who has raised more than $7,000 herself, said the ride that averages 83 miles a day, has been uplifting and reminds her of her childhood.

“It reminds me of the first time I rode a bicycle 15 miles with the Girl Scouts of America at age 12. I first realized then that it gave me a joyful, happy feeling,” she said. “When I heard about this ride supported by the ALA, I got excited about it. It was something for my bucket list. There are too many kids and older adults with asthma (a narrowing of the airways causing breathing problems).”

Rogers is riding a 49-pound, seven-speed Pedego electric bicycle with a 48-volt lithium battery for help her climb hills and buck wind, two disc brakes, a battery charge indicator and blinking front and rear lights that are always on and a 500-watt electric motor in the rear wheel hub.

The founder and CEO of Area Tech Designs, a cycling apparel company, Rogers and her husband Paul have been riding bicycles for many years. In college, Rogers made cycling clothes for friends out of bathing suit material that stretched to fit riders, which grew into a thriving business.

On the road, Rogers wears neon green, yellow and orange to complement her orange bike plus several garments with sun protection designed for coolness and comfort in the heat.

Rogers said some riders in her group are still trying to raise the minimum $7,000 for the event. To support a rider, visit www.bigride.org

Asthma is a serious, chronic lung disease that appears to be on the rise in the United States and many other countries. Studies have shown that active children living in communities with high ozone and particulate matter pollution levels and some volatile, organic compounds are more likely to develop asthma than those living in areas with less ozone pollution.

According to the ALA, 38 percent of the U.S. population, including 2.5 million kids, live in areas with unhealthy ozone levels. Particle pollution includes acids, dust, dirt, smoke, soot and aerosol droplets. The smaller the particles, the deeper they get into lungs, according to the ALA.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/aerotechdesigns and aerotechdesigns.wordpress.com.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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