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.

Getting the word out... Using both Traditional Media and Social Media
We have been working very hard to get the Cycling for Leader Dogs Facebook page up and running.  The response in just the first 22 days of its activation has been amazing as a mechanism to get the word out.  This is my first attempt at learning to use social media and so far I have been very impressed by it.  I imagine that it will become the most powerful tool in our communication toolkit throughout the trip.  Thanks Jennifer and Brad for the help!

We have also seen an increase in traditional media interest with Cycling for Leader Dogs over the past few weeks.  There are a couple of articles out or in process.  One of our local papers known as The Reflector recently published a story about the trip (La Center superintendent to bike 
across the country). There has also been interest in the trip from a local radio station that has a regular reach of more than 60,000 listeners.  The program for this show will air at the end of May and I will include it in a later blog post.  Finally, Leader Dogs is working to put together video footage of the project to have ready for television stations in markets across the country in advance of the date I will ride through each area.  Put simply, there is a lot of effort to get the word out about Cycling for Leader Dogs using both traditional and new media and I anticipate this momentum will continue to build both before and during the trip.

Sharing information about Cycling for Leader Dogs with Lions and other LDB supporters
There is a lot of effort to attend Lions Club meetings and district conferences in order to share about this project by many people.  Lions Mike Dengate and Kathleen Breen are spreading the word throughout the Michigan area at the many events and conferences they attend on behalf of Leader Dogs for the Blind.  There is also a great number of LDB supporters passing along
word of the trip to their connections. Two of the strongest communicating groups generating enthusiasm are the puppy raiser and puppy breeder groups.  Their energy for this project is truly inspiring, but then again these folks are obviously so committed to Leader Dogs for the Blind talking about this project is clearly an extension of the selflessness energy they exhibit on a regular basis.  I have been so impressed and humbled by their support.

A simple idea continues to grow bigger every day
Only a few short months ago, what started as "simple" idea to ride a bicycle across the country continues to amaze and astound Debbie and me.  I guess when you mix dogs, bicycles and Lions together you get the trifecta of high interest.  At least that is how I can try and explain the strong interest and energy that continues to build around this project.  I would like to be able to share more exciting news with everyone, but I have been sworn to keeping it a secret for now.  Stay tuned for other exciting news about Cycling for Leader Dogs in future blog posts and of course... on Facebook.

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