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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The three weeks to go report...

Many months ago when the idea of riding across America officially was launched, I thought it would take forever for the actual departure date to arrive.  Well here we are, only three weeks and one day before I will be settling into the routine of "ride, eat, sleep, repeat" for seven straight weeks.  I think mentally and physically I am more than ready for the challenge.

With that said, there is so much left to do before the June 16th deadline, despite all the work that has been done to date.  The following is a brief update on some of the events over the past few weeks since my last blog post.

Visiting Lions Clubs Throughout Our Region
We have had the chance to speak at many Lions clubs and other meetings across multiple district 19-G.  There are so many Lions who have reached out to us and have helped get us on the agendas to talk about Leader Dogs and the Cycling For Leader Dogs project.  The Longview Pioneer Lions, Ridgefield Lions, Salmon Creek Lions, Kalama Lions, Kelso Lions as well as zone leaders for 19-G1 and G2.  We also were very fortunate to have the support of our District Governor Crawford Spence to get us on the agenda at our MD 19-G conference.  Thank you Lions of MD 19G for your tremendous support!  Also, I owe my fellow club members of the La Center Lions a huge thank you for all they have done as part of this project.  Steve Fuller, Ken and Judy Hickman and our club treasurer Dana Hantho.  You guys are superstars in my book!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sharing About Leader Dogs for the Blind with Students
Thanks to Deb Marinos and her Leader Dog "Kibble" as well as Regional Trainer Stephanie Sherwood, more than 1,000 students at La Center elementary and La Center middle school had the chance to hear about Leader Dogs for the Blind, what it is like to have the freedom to travel through the use of a Leader Dog and what it is like to bring a client and newly trained dog together.  I also shared with my students about Cycling for Leader Dogs.  I am very proud of our students and have heard lots of positives from students and staff about the assemblies that Deb, Kibble and Stephanie provided.  Each student also received a Leader Dog book mark for their summer reading.  Thank you Deb, Kibble and Stephanie for taking time out of your busy day to share your experiences and knowledge with La Center students.

Training, training and still more training...
I am continuing my training rides to prepare for the many days of riding that Cycling for Leader Dogs will require.  No matter how much I train, getting out on the road and the day in, day out work over the first week or two will take me from where I am at now to the level of fitness I will need to make it all the way across the country.  One of the nice parts of training thus far has been getting to go on many long rides with Debbie and our two children Brent and Jessie.  I am very thankful that they have been so supportive of this effort.  There is no way it would have been possible without their love and support.  The Mansell family team has been awesome and so very supportive of this project.

Special Thanks to the Love of My Life
I am married to my best friend Debbie.  Her energy, willingness to dive in and get to work on whatever crazy idea I get started as well as her unending Love and support is without question the key to any success we achieve with this project.  Anyone who has ever met Debbie knows what I am talking about.  She is a very special person.  Thank you sweetheart for everything you have done as part of the this Cycling for Leader Dogs project.  Also, thank you for putting up with me for nearly 35 years (married for 33 years this summer).

Three Weeks and Counting...
With only three weeks before the departure date, there is still so much to get done.  As a school superintendent the last few weeks of school are absolutely critical to the success of closing the current school year well and "laying the tracks in front of the train" for the next school year.  There is a tremendous about of work that must be done and very little time to get it done.  A huge thank you needs to go out to my staff and administrators at school for helping me get everything done before the June 16th departure.  I also want to thank once again my school board for giving the time off to do take on this once in a lifetime endeavor to ride across the country for Leader Dogs.

Thank you to everyone for the tremendous teamwork that has gone into this project!  From the folks at Leader Dogs, all the sponsors, my hosts, Lions club leaders and members, by school board, staff, administrators and students at school and of course my family.  Thank you so much for helping make this project a reality.  Your support, energy and encouragement is what has made this little idea a reality and I thank you for it!

Happy Cycling,
Lion Mark


  1. Hi Mark! I went ahead and donated $50, hoping you will get in 5,000 miles instead of that measly 3,500 ;)

    1. Hi John. Thanks for the sponsorship. Does this mean that once I get to Portland, Maine I have to ride back 1,500 miles toward home or will some of my training miles count? I appreciate the support for Leader Dogs.


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