As of right now, I am exactly one week away from embarking on a unicycle trip across the state of Alabama to raise awareness for childhood obesity. It still does not seem real. Only four months ago the flicker of a dream ignited into this beautiful reality. I cannot attempt to separate my preparations for this trek from the amazing support I have received both near and far, from individuals and groups. Planning this has taught me so much about how truly wonderful people are.
Why?: Raise Awareness for Childhood Obesity, Raise Money for Louie's Kids (Check them out at Louieskids.org), Raise Awareness for Sharing the Road with Bikes (and UNICYCLES ^^)
Formative Stage: The first month of preparations (after I convinced everyone that I was indeed serious and of a sound mind ;) )involved reaching out for sponsorship and the beginning stages of a training regimen. Headsweats, Clif Bar & Co., Borden Dental, and Osa's Garden (the wonderful health food store that I work in) were enthusiastic to get on board. Without you and the fantastic individuals who have donated their time, talents, money, and energy this would not be possible.
All of you gave me hope and the drive to keep pushing on.
Training: Considering that I started my training regimen only riding 5-8 miles per day... I can say that it has truly come a long way! Since these first weeks, training has involved back to back long rides of not less than 18 miles. I also included running and walking a few times per week to help with cardio conditioning. My goal on the trip is to ride approximately 40 miles per day, allowing me to reach my destination within 12 days after the start date, August 4.
The Trek and the TEAM: Thanks to the efforts of Dane Trelles, Unicycle Across Alabama has a set route that will take us from Florence, AL to Gulf Shores, AL (Roughly 400 miles). Stops will be made in various cities to spread awareness for childhood obesity and the message of healthy and active living. We will be overnighting in Huntsville, Arab, Birmingham, Clanton, Montgomery, Greenville, Brewton, Bay Minette, and Gulf Shores. We will mostly be camping along the way, but a few wonderful people have already opened their homes to us. But who is this we!? I will have three drivers over the course of the trip to assist in hauling camping equipment in the sag wagon. The first leg of the journey is crewed by none other than my wonderful mother, Debbie Schifano, who will take me as far as Birmingham. The second leg will be crewed by my very close friend and ultra-marathoner, Steven Davis. My uncle, Tony Schifano, will be meeting us up in Montgomery to finish off the trip. Another very important member of the team is Wieland Claes. Wieland will arrive tomorrow from Belgium to ride a bicycle alongside me for the extent of the journey.
It is our unified goal to raise awareness to the issue of childhood obesity and how it can be mitigated. We hope to teach individuals the connection between body and mind, the importance of activity and nutrition, and the special balance that one needs in unicycling and in life. :) We are very proud to be giving all proceeds from this trip to Louie's Kids, who create individual programs for children and adolescents battling childhood obesity. Louie's Kids, located in Charleston, South Carolina, serves the nation with great passion without expecting anything in return. I am very excited to have the opportunity to raise funds for this noble nonprofit.