Monday, July 7, 2003

Cyclist gears up for trip over U.S.

By Andrea Uhde
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tom Spasoff poses on his bike near his Kenwood home.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
KENWOOD - A Nike sweatband stretched across his forehead, Tom Spasoff wheeled a baby blue bicycle out of his garage and plopped down on the seat.

While most 67-year-olds are relaxing at home on this rainy day, Spasoff will ride about 40 miles, weaving from his home in Kenwood to Indian Hill and back.

It's a daily routine.

Spasoff is shaping up for a bike ride across the United States. A grandfather and survivor of six coronary bypass surgeries, Spasoff will start in Bellingham, Wash. during the first week of August and ride solo through at least 11 states, including northern Ohio.

He's promoting the theme, "Cycling for Caring Communities: Conquering Hunger & Promoting Healthy Lifestyles." It's part of a fund-raiser for Inter Parish Ministry, a social service agency supported by 36 local churches that offers help to poor families in Cincinnati's eastern suburbs and Clermont County.

The trip will last 24 to 28 days, Spasoff said, and he'll ride up to 140 miles each day.

A van driven by a leader of Inter Parish Ministry and carrying clean clothes and a second bike will trail behind him.

It will be Spasoff's third time riding across America. He made the trip in 40 days with his son, Andy, in 1987 and again by himself in 1994.

Those trips were "phenomenal," Spasoff remembered with a smile.

"Very few people have the opportunity to help so many people while doing something they really enjoy doing," he said. "Any time on the trail when I get tired and say, 'Oh, I don't want to do this anymore,' I just think about the people I'm helping."

The trip is intended to raise money, food and volunteers for the churches involved with Inter Parish Community and similar agencies across the United States. The agencies and churches can ask for donations per mile - he will ride about 3,200 miles total - and they can keep the proceeds.

"What he's doing is really going to benefit (the needy) through donations, through awareness," said Annette Krochmalny, the executive director of Inter Parish Ministry. "He's not just pedaling alone. He's pedaling for all the families that are in need."

To ready himself, Spasoff, a health and lifestyle consultant, is spending the two months prior to the trip riding his bike for three to four hours a day. Every other day, he lifts weights.

He rides through all sorts of weather and terrain, stopping only for lightning.

During the trip, he'll have telephone contact only with his wife, Sandy. "The requirement from Sandy is that I call her every night," he said.

Sandy, 59, in a nearby room, laughed. "So I know he's not in a ditch somewhere," she said.

Despite having clogged arteries in 1980 and a "fine-tuning" on his heart about five years ago, Spasoff said his health is fine. The surgeries were nothing more than a "minor inconvenience," he said. "I refuse to recognize it as any more than that."

Still, many of his friends wonder how he does it.

"People say, 'What are you, crazy?' No, I enjoy doing it," he said. "Old limits you if you let your mind limit you."

Get involved

To donate money, food or time, call Inter Parish Ministry at (513) 561-3932



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