Ryan Neely, of Lake Orion, went the extra mile -- make that 100 miles -- on his bicycle to avoid having to run a marathon. Neely's high school friend James Haddrill wanted him to run in a marathon, but Neely resisted so Haddrill talked him into doing a Century Ride (100 miles in one day) around Lake Tahoe to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The event was part of the "Team in Training" program sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society nationwide. The Tahoe event included 1,363 riders representing 44 chapters from across the United States, with 62 riders from Michigan. They raised a total of $4.5 million in donations.
Participating in the ride presented Neely with a number of challenges. First, he had to begin training in January for the May ride around Lake Tahoe. Second, the event coincided with finals week at Kettering for the B Section Senior, and lastly, he committed himself to raising $4,000 in pledges.
"Training through school term on top of fundraising and studying stressed me out," said Neely. "I never had to raise that much money before. Reaching that goal gives me confidence for other things."
He accomplished his fundraising goal by soliciting donations from co-workers, friends and even some of his instructors at Kettering. The university donated $200 toward his efforts. He earned approximately $1,500 by having a garage sale, selling items contributed by friends and neighbors.
"Some people would make a donation even if they didn't find anything to buy," he said.
To get ready for the event physically, Neely rode an exercise bicycle every day until he could ride outside. He trained on mountain bike tires, but switched to street tires before leaving for Tahoe.
"It made a big difference, it was a lot smoother ride," he said.
The only thing he couldn't prepare for were the elevations around Lake Tahoe.
"There is nothing like those hills and mountains around here to train on," he said. "At one point during the ride we were going 45 miles-per-hour down the side of a mountain."
Neely estimated it took about seven hours to complete the 100-mile ride, not including 1.5 hours for rest breaks and lunch. Planning to continue his involvement with the Team in Training program, Neely said he would consider another century ride.
"It was a really good experience," he said, "a lot of nice people are involved."