Hoping to bike my way into the Guinness World Records

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by BioNews Staff |

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A graphic image accompanying Parkinson's community spotlight stories.

Bruce at the North Trails in Marquette, Michigan, in 2016. Photos courtesy of Bruce Closser.

This is Bruce Closser’s story:

I’ve been an avid cyclist for years and riding my bike across the continent has been a bucket-list item for a long time; however, it never seemed compatible with a full-time job. When I was nearing retirement, I raised the subject with my wife, Sally. She was less than enthusiastic about spending an entire summer alone, so I put the idea on hold.

Sally, my wife of 54 years, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, and I was diagnosed in 2019. Her disease progressed faster than mine and, sadly, she died from the disease in 2022. I am fortunate that I respond very well to the medications and that my condition remains good.

My daughter, Svea, invited me to go skiing in Montana with her family last Christmas, and my son, Colin, and daughter-in-law, Andrea, invited me to join them in Colorado for skiing in February. My Nepalese son, Suman, suggested that he and I do the cross-county ride together. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to get three months off work, we considered breaking the ride up into three segments and spreading it over three years.

An avid cyclist, Bruce also enjoys skiing.

While I was skiing in Colorado, I read a story in the local newspaper about a 75-year-old man who had recently been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest man to ride a bicycle from coast to coast. I’m 78 — the record is there for the taking! So, I applied and have been approved to make an official Guinness World Record attempt. I will bike the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail solo and self-supported this summer.

Now, I have to prepare my body for the ride and gather the gear needed for the 4,200-mile journey that will cross five mountain ranges and multiple high mountain passes.

I’m pretty fit from skiing, but need to focus on exercises, such as aerobics and strength training, needed for biking. I expect to be riding 40 to 60 miles a day on the TransAm trip.

I’ll be staying at motels when available, but will also be camping. I’ll need to carry all my gear, including clothing, cooking equipment, and food. Some riders report needing up to 7,000 calories a day, so procuring that much food will be a challenge.

I approach this adventure with excitement and trepidation. The statistics are that only 50% of solo riders who start the TransAm will finish it. One rider tried to remember when he wanted to quit that he had just one simple task each day: get on the bike and ride.

In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April, the Parkinson’s Community Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by Parkinson’s disease written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #ParkinsonsSpotlight, or read the full series.