Welcome to Cycling for Leader Dogs.

Cycling for Leader Dogs is a trans-America solo bicycle tour from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. The goal of this effort is to increase awareness and raise money in support of Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Follow us on FACEBOOK. Keep track of Lion Mark's progress through his ONLINE CYCLING JOURNALS.
Curious what his route will be? Take a look at the the TRIP ROUTE MAP. Have questions? Send Lion Mark an EMAIL.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mid-March Update - March 18th, 2012

Eighty-nine days sounds like a long time.  A bit under fourteen weeks sounds a bit shorter.  Less than three months sounds even shorter.  These are all different ways to express the time between now and my departure on the trans-America trip.  It seems like ages ago when I sat my wife Debbie down last November and told her that I wanted to make this trip a reality, but it actually wasn't that long ago.

My point to all this rambling is that June 16th will be here very quickly.  The part of me that loves to just get on my bike and ride is saying, "Bring it on!  I can't wait to get the trip underway."  The other part of me that is highly motivated to accomplish the main focus of the trip to increase awareness and raise funds for Leader Dogs is saying, "There is so much to do in order to do this well and so little time to get everything done."  Hurry up, slow down, hurry up,... and so on it goes.

My fellow Lions Club members have been super supportive with our planning.  In fact, I think many of them are more excited than I am which I really appreciate.  They keep me going and focused.  I know we wouldn't be as far along in our work without their support, advice and encouragement.   The great folks at Leader Dogs for the Blind (LDB) have also been amazing.  Our semi-weekly phone conference calls have been extremely helpful and supportive.  Each and every passing day I am more impressed with the work of this great team at LDB.  Additionally, both Debbie and I will be traveling back to Leader Dog headquarters in a few weeks to visit and see first hand the campus and meet both clients and the LDB team in person.  Getting to make this visit is almost like a dream come true for us.  Both Debbie and I feel as though this experience will help us become more aware of all the services LDB provides and thereby helping us to become better ambassadors.

We have begun to raise funds towards our $35,000 goal.  The first batch of sponsorship pins have arrived and we are beginning to move towards our goal of at least 1,000 sponsors, one sponsor at a time.  To get the ball rolling, LDB has now created a special link (see "DONATE" button at the top right of this site) just for those who want to donate online as part of the Cycling for Leader Dogs project.  This site will accept credit card donations and Leader Dogs will then send out both a sponsorship pin and a thank you letter documenting the tax deductible donation.  All donations will go to LDB for their causes as the costs of the trip itself is being provided in other ways. 

We continue to ride whenever possible.  Most of the time it is indoors on the trainers, but we also get outside (rain or shine) two or three days a week.  I also am training by pulling my trailer (a.k.a. "Norman") adding weight to simulate what I will be carrying on the trip this summer.  Obviously this is not possible indoors so these outside training rides are extremely important.  And as you can see, my trusty training coach (Debbie) is at my side giving me pointers and advice along the way;-)

We also enjoy long distance running and have several races planned between now and departure time to prepare for the trip.  The picture to the left was taken this morning at the Portland Shamrock run.  Running will help me be more prepared for the trip as it will prepare for the physical stress of the 3,500 miles.  However, running won't ready the "ole sit bone", which takes lots of time in the saddle.

I have recently made some upgrades to my bike by adding a new drive system known as a Rohloff Speedhub.  Sounds fast, but it is really about durability instead of speed.  It exchanges all the external gears and derailers for a compact and sealed internal drive system that has a significant record of service.  I am
very excited about this setup because as a big person I really put lots of stress on equipment.  Many long distance bicycle tourers use the Rohloff and swear by its durability.  Hopefully I will get the same result.  I have also switched over to a new dynamo in the front wheel that not only will be powerful enough to run my main lights, but will also allow me to charge my iPhone or Garmin GPS unit while traveling down the road.  Always on the lookout for power plugins to charge electronics has been a real time drain of time on past tours, so this is a welcome addition to the technological tool kit. 

Finally, we continue to work on planning for the trip in terms of daily distances, finding host Lions along the route and arranging meetings with interested Lions Clubs to talk with about Leader Dogs.  The basic trip route is set, but we are just beginning to reach out to those interested in helping.  LDB recently sent out through their e-Blast system (email listserve) a description of the trip and almost immediately we received about a half-dozen offers to host.  This is really exciting and much appreciated.  With sixty-three days of travel, there is a lot of work left to do in this area.  Anyone having an interest in helping out or want to learn more about Leader Dogs for the Blind along the trip route, feel free to shoot me an email.

I guess that is all for now.  Thanks again to all those who are sending positive thoughts, providing ideas and offering support (including "Penny per mile" sponsorships).

Happy cycling,
Lion Mark


  1. Good Luck! I hear you will be in Sobieski, MN this summer. I look forward to meeting you. I will pledge a penny a mile once I figure out the paypal thing.
    Keep up the great work!
    Lion Sue Salvog
    Little Falls Dandee Lions (MN)

  2. Thanks for the support Sue. I too am looking forward to meeting you this summer.


  3. Thanks for the upgrade of your bike and i think that, it will help you with it,s best quality.travel food for dogs