For the next three weeks, I’ll be working as a bike guide and support staff for a bike ride across America. I did this a couple of years ago as well. It’s a cool project and the brainchild of the dean of sciences at Notre Dame. His name is Greg Crawford, and he’s one amazing guy. This is the fourth time Greg has devoted a month or more of his summer for an extended ride, raising awareness and money to fight a rare genetic childhood disease. The disease is called Niemann-Pick Type C. It’s a neurodegenerative disease that is always fatal, killing children usually before they’re teenagers. It killed three of Notre Dame Hall of Fame Coach Ara Parseghian’s grandchildren. Greg’s rides have helped raise millions of dollars to pay for research that’s done at Notre Dame and through Coach Parseghian’s foundation. This ride’s fundraising is critical, as doctors are at the point where they can start clinical trials on ten kids. Here’s a link to Greg’s blog page. He writes every day. Greg Crawford’s Road to Discovery
I picked up the ride in my favorite city of Austin (OK, I love Park City, too, but Austin and I go way back). I came in a day early so I could speak at Livestrong Headquarters. THAT was amazing. I’ve been a major Livestrong (Lance Armstrong Foundation) supporter in many different ways since 2001. I got the chance to tell the staff how I got involved in the Foundation, what I’ve done (raise lots of money, make lots of speeches, basically champion a foundation whose mission inspires me), and why I’m still loyal. I also got to say thank you to them, which was cool. Greg spoke, too. Then, we all took a photo together, two groups of committed, passionate people working to help people in crisis.
Since I was in Austin with a free afternoon before technically joining the Road to Discovery crew, I found myself at Barton Springs. 🙂 This has nothing to do with Livestrong or the Road to Discovery, but I love swimming at Barton Springs. That’s all.
Then, we hit the ground running. The Road to Discovery doesn’t just zoom across the country. (There’s actually very little zooming going on.) We go from Notre Dame Alumni Club to Alumni Club, so Greg can tell them what he’s doing and, hopefully, get some money for the Foundation. Our first event was the ND club of Austin. Very fun and hip at a loud restaurant with the best turkey burger I’ve ever had (Flying Saucer is the name of the place.) Afterward, everyone signed the custom-wrapped van, with gold sharpies.
This morning, we rolled out at 5 am. It’s been hot here in Texas (duh!), so we wanted to get some miles in before the sun came up. This ain’t our first rodeo. It was in the mid 60s when we started. Lots of little rollers and a tailwind for hours. (Thanks, Texas!) But by the time we got off the bikes, it was over 100. We’ve been drinking all day (water!), and no one’s peeing much. TMI, probably, but staying hydrated is no easy feat.
Today ended in Brenham, Texas, and lucky for us, I know my Texas. I remembered that Brenham is home to Blue Bell ice cream, the best ice cream on the planet. It’s Saturday, so there were no tours. But we decided to just stop by the creamery to see what’s what. It had closed at 4, and we got there at 4:07. BUT, the nice lady who was closing up saw the desperation in my eyes as I begged her to sell me two scoops and told her we’d just ridden our bikes from Austin. She gave us the best ice cream sandwiches ever. On to Houston tomorrow!