The True Ride of a Lifetime

The True Ride of a Lifetime
Originally uploaded by NickWI.

[Editor's Note: A bit of an overhaul to the ole' blog. I am hoping that the changes will motivate me to maintain and contribute to it more often. I'll get to some of the finer features of the new layout someday soon when nothing is going on in my life.]

It's always weird when you grow up knowing someone all their life and then they later go do something either crazy or amazing. Or in this case, both.

I have known my cousin Aaron for about as long as I can remember. I can still remember going to their house and playing Lode Runner on their computer. Or when I went to my Grandma Carlson's cottage with him for a week. He seemed pretty normal back then. I might even say he was more normal than I was.

And then it happened. He started biking. A lot. I remember biking with him a few times when we were younger, nothing real far, just into town I think, and it never really dawned on me that he would end up biking as far as he is right now.

See, while most college students are busy earning money to help pay for another semester of education/partying, Aaron is doing something quite different. Instead, he is biking from Alaska to Florida.

That's right. I said Alaska. Not Alabama to Florida, Alaska to Florida. Pretty insane, right?

I thought so too at first. But he is doing it for a great cause. As is the case for most bikers (at least in America), my cousin has a lot of respect for Tour de France dominator Lance Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong's foundation, Livestrong, devoted to cancer research is accepting donations from bikers who are collecting funds on long trips.

I'm not a betting man, but I doubt if many are taking trips nearly as long as this one. 5,800 miles. The most incredible part to me though isn't the distance, but the rate at which he is traveling. Averaging about 100 miles a day, with no real "off" days until he gets to Wisconsin later this week.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to have dinner with Aaron, my cousin Ryan, and my aunt Lori last night. Just seeing them really made this whole trip real to me. When Aaron pedalled up to say hi to me when he first arrived, it dawned on me; This guy is doing something important.

A had a little bit of a complex growing up. I remember always watching TV hoping to see the Coenen last name in the credits of TV shows or on the backs of sports jerseys. It didn't really show up very often though. Just recently I found out there is a pitcher for the Braves with the last name Coenen, but that's the first time I have ever seen a Coenen in professional sports.

Anyway, more importantly, my cousin is really doing something special. He may not make it on the national news, but he is effectively making a difference in the lives of those he talks to and potentially through the donations he raises. In contrast to my daily job, I really admire what he is doing.

If you would like to donate to the Livestrong campaign on behalf of the great trip my cousin is making, click here. I personally made a donation for $58.00 (one penny for every mile he is biking).

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