A 4,150-mile, three-month, cross-continent bicycle ride to cure breast cancer made a stop in Delaware County Wednesday.
3 Country Ride is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to raising money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The idea is to ride from Mexico to Canada while going across America — a coast-to-coast journey into three nations and 15 of our United States, over a span of 83 days and in 71 segments. There is one man doing all the pedaling — Bob Hood, a tech firm CEO from San Diego. Hood has run marathons and triathlons, and he spent a year training for this ride.
“I designed the route to minimize mountains,” Hood said of the 4,150-mile trip during a respite at one of Delaware County’s Preservation Parks, Hogback Ridge Park. “I’m riding a Specialized Diverge E5. It’s sturdier than a road bike to handle the gravel. It has 22 speeds.”
On March 20, Hood began the fundraising ride in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I average 60 miles a day,” he said. “It takes me 6 or 7 hours a day on the bike. I stop every 10 miles or so for a break. Sundays are a rest day.”
Along the way, Hood has had to deal with rain and snow, but he has escaped unscathed with injury as of this writing. Surprisingly, he said the toughest part of the trek has been the Katy Trail in Missouri, a 240-mile stretch of crushed limestone rail-trail rendered ponderous with precipitation.
Hood hasn’t been going it entirely alone, though. In some segments, he’s been joined by other local riders who have caught wind of his ride and are sympathetic to his sojourn. Sometimes he’s joined by Ronald Calabrese, 3CR’s event & social media coordinator and support driver. Also accompanying him is his wife, Laura Ghosn, in a support van.
“They’ve done a great job of protecting me,” Hood said.
Ghosn said they’ve been fortunate in not having to deal with road rage along the way. Instead, they get a lot of questions and kudos at pit stops, and enquirers are given small cards with donation information. However, she said she’s still concerned about distracted drivers.
Although the 3CR team has a strict timetable, the days on the road aren’t all about riding and resting. They put together three live videos daily on their website: A morning mingle with a notable local person, a noon update from the road, and an evening wrap up with locals.
That brings us back to Hogback Ridge, which is in Brown Township and has a Sunbury mailing address. At the Woodland Ridge trailhead, Hood was interviewing Preservation Parks spokeswoman Sue Hagan about Delaware County’s unique parks system for the morning video Wednesday. Hagan also gave Hood tips for the next segment of the northern leg up to Mansfield, where the popular movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.
These brief interviews have been among the “most rewarding” aspects of the ride, Hood said. The other is trying to find a cure for breast cancer.
“The whole reason for doing this ride is to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation,” Hood said. “Laura’s mom is a two-time survivor. BCRF is geared toward finding a cure. One hundred percent of it goes to them.”
According to 3CR, more than 300,000 women are annually diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 die from the disease.
On June 10, the journey will end when Hood rides from Maine into Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. While he was willing to continue 3CR’s mission to find a cure and prevent breast cancer, he wasn’t sure if he would continue to be the main rider in subsequent seasons.
“No one’s offered yet” to take over that role, Hood said.
To donate, visit http://www.3CountryRide.org or https://give.bcrf.org/3CountryRide.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.