Friday, October 13, 2017

Help Local Endurance Cyclist Reach his Goal for Cancer Kids!

FABB member Jenifer Joy Madden reports this great story about a local Fairfax County cyclist: 
It's not too late to contribute to the worthy cause of Reston entrepreneur/endurance cyclist Len Forkas. In July, Len completed the grueling 3,000-mile Race Across America. He was riding to raise $1 million for Hopecam, a service he started to keep kids with cancer connected with school and friends. 
Len successfully completed the cross-country race but is just shy of his audacious monetary goal. He rode 250 miles a day for 12 days through every kind of terrain and weather, from towering Rockies to teeming tropical storms. Because of the grueling nature, Outside Magazine has dubbed Race Across America “the toughest bike race in the world.” 
Whenever Len’s determination flagged, he says, he would think of the Hopecam kids’ everyday fight for life and peddle harder. Len started the non-profit after his own son won a battle with leukemia. 
Now that he’s safely back home, Len is taking stock of his harrowing journey. He says the heat that melted airplane tires on the tarmac at Phoenix Airport also melted him. He started to hallucinate that the roadside white stripe looked concave and that there was a 3-foot drop between the gravel and pavement. Pulling over in the middle of the night, his crew’s van accidently pinned his left foot. Luckily, he was standing on sand so his foot sunk in and wasn’t crushed, though it did quickly swell to twice its size. 
Len was 58 when he raced this summer. He competed in the oldest division and came in thirteenth overall. Only 15 of the 38 racers who started the race actually finished. 
Len also completed the race in 2012, the story of which he recalled at TEDxTysons the same day he flew to California to start the 2017 competition. At one point in the race five years ago, he was so exhausted he fell asleep in the saddle, waking up just before he hit a guardrail along a sheer cliff. I was at the TEDx event and had a chance to speak with Len after he got back this summer. When I asked what he did to avoid falling asleep this time, he said he DID fall asleep, but his crew woke him up by blasting the horn just before he drifted into oncoming car traffic. 

As for where Len trained for this year’s race, he says he avoided the W&OD Trail and trained only in the streets, hitting the road at 4 a.m. 
To help Len’s Hopecam cause, please donate here. You can also celebrate Len and his crew’s victory with them at the Tysons Silverline Center on October 19

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