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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

As April comes to a close, the six weeks to go mark nears...

It is hard to believe, but we are closing in on six weeks from our departure date of June 16th.  As we get closer to this important day, the time to prepare obviously becomes shorter, but my enthusiasm for getting underway is becoming harder to keep in check.

The following is an update on various activities that are in process to prepare for Cycling for Leader Dogs ride across America.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to read up on all the exciting news with this project.  Also thank you to so many people who are pouring energy into this project!

The Training and Testing Continues
Even though there are lots of preparations and logistics to accomplish over the next six weeks, my training efforts are taking a huge chunk of my preparation time.  My training buddy and "coach" (my wife Debbie) and I try to ride outside two or three days a week.  We also ride indoors on trainers three mornings a week.  Debbie and I also try to run at least a 5K or more three or four days a week.  The picture to the left is a shot of Debbie and I riding in Portland, Oregon on one of our extended rides. This outside riding is way more fun than being indoors, but more importantly it allows me to practice pulling "Norman" (my trailer) with simulated weight.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard... "Hey are you haul'n beer in the trailer?" from passing cyclists.  

Another time commitment is the continued testing of equipment as well as various strategies for being away from home for an extended period of time solo.  One new tool I have been testing is an App for my iPhone called Cyclemeter.  It allows my phone to be used as a GPS tracker, data collection device and map generator.  I plan on using this App as a way to help keep people informed as to my whereabouts and to allow interested followers of Cycling for Leader Dogs to have detailed information regarding the journey.  This information will be updated nightly when I am traveling so everyone is kept in the loop as to my progress.  The picture to the right is a sample map of a recent ride we went on showing mileage in five mile increments.  This information will be shared through our Facebook page each evening while on the trip.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Learning about Leader Dogs for the Blind

It is hard to believe it, but April has arrived. With less than ten weeks until the departure date, it is sometimes hard to imagine how everything is going to get done. All of the preparations have been enjoyable, but one so far has risen above all the rest... Our visit last week to Leader Dog headquarters in Michigan.

In order to be better Ambassadors for LDB, we were asked to fly out to their headquarters in Rochester Hills, Michigan for an up close and personal tour.  Quite simply it was a life changing experience for both Debbie (my wife) and me.  The complexity of the combined effort of all the clients, their families, staff and volunteers to support and train the team (the client and the Leader Dog) is both comprehensive and extensive.  Some people might think that you simply teach a dog some basic habits, give the blind or visually impaired person a few pointers, connect the two with a harness and call it good.  This couldn't be further from the truth.

The effort to breed, whelp, raise and train a healthy and skilled dog is just one half of a complex process, but complicated none-the-less.  Teams of dog breeders work with LDB staff to bring the puppies into the world.  Once born and ready to leave their mother, the puppies get a full wellness check so they can move on to the next phase of their training.  Teams of volunteer puppy raisers spend about a year raising these future Leader Dogs and work tirelessly to prepare them for their formal training back at Leader Dog headquarters.  Twenty percent of all puppies are actually raised by convicts as part of a rehabilitation process.  No convict involved in this program has ever been sent back to prison for committing a crime upon release.  This says a lot to me about the power of this work and the impact it can have on people.