Cycling for a causeSometimes life takes a turn that makes you realize it is time to seize the moment. For former Hudsonite and 2003 HHS grad, David Shirley that time is now.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
Sometimes life takes a turn that makes you realize it is time to seize the moment.
For former Hudsonite and 2003 HHS grad, David Shirley that time is now. Shirley is making his way cross country on a bike, raising funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the American Cancer Society as he goes. His goal is to raise $15,000 and awareness about prostate cancer.
Shirley’s desire to travel cross country started when he was a junior in college. “I wanted to stay in national parks all the way across the continent but I have not been able to make the trip because of jobs and school,” he said during a stop at his parents’ house in Troy Township on Sept. 14. Shirley, a biomedical engineer, was laid off in May.
“I decided it was now or never,” said Shirley, who determined by June the time was right. He dusted off his ideas and mapped out an 8,000 plus mile route which began Aug. 13 in Acadia National Park in Maine. His goal was to get over the Rockies before snow. Cold arrived sooner than he had hoped so the route has been slightly modified. Monday he was in Cody, Wyoming, still headed westward. Tuesday found him riding into snow.
As a student, Shirley was always athletic and a member of swim, soccer and tennis teams. He also participated in choir and chess club. David admits he is driven to succeed. The 25-year-old is the son of Craig and Nancy Shirley. David participated in a couple of mountain bike races as a kid but it was when he started training for triathlons in college that he started serious biking.
Shirley travels with a trailer and panniers in which he carries a tent, sleeping bag, food and clothing. All this gear weighs 113 pounds.
“Gradually I am starting to take away some of the weight,” said Shirley. “I mailed my computer home.” Depending on the weather and the terrain he averages 80 miles per day.
“People that I have met, everywhere, have been very hospitable, warm and welcoming,” said Shirley. “They are genuinely curious about what I am doing. We, as humans, are good in general but I thought I’d find a little more pessimism along the way.”
From staying in folks’ basements, to camping in back yards, David’s adventure across America and parts of Canada has revealed most people are thrilled to help out.
One Canadian family literally took him in for a night. He was fed, did his laundry and watched a movie with the family before getting on the road the next day. As he left, they sent him on the way with a cherry pie and $20 as well as a contact in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Things tend to work out,” said David. “You have to be open to the changes and be willing to accept what comes.” He is on a $15 per day budget.
Stopping in Hudson was mile 1,860.
His planned route was to continue westward to Vancouver, down the west coast to San Diego visiting as many national parks as possible along the way including Yellowstone, Glacier, Olympic and Joshua Tree ending the journey in Zion National Park in Utah.
Armed with a cell phone and GPS tracking device he is in touch with family, friends and supporters.
“It is the first time in five years I know exactly where he is,” said Nancy Shirley, his mom. As this story was being written, he crossed into Yellowstone National Park.
Utilizing contemporary technology, David can be followed by accessing his Web site and all of his links, Facebook, a blog, GPS tracking and photos. Other relatives and friends are following his progress as well in their own blogs and columns, which are also accessible on the website.
Donations can be made to the LIVESTRONG or the American Cancer Society by visiting his Web site. Checks can also be made out to “Lance Armstrong Foundation” and sent to David Shirley, 237 Cove Lane, Hudson WI 54016.
“I have been so surprised at the circumstances that have presented themselves. It is amazing how things tend to work themselves out if you allow them. Everyone seems to open up to me and things just tend to fall into place,” said David on Monday in an email. “Unfortunately, with the cold weather predicted in the near future in the Rockies and the fires in Yellowstone, my trip has to be re-analyzed and re-routed. If I have learned anything, I will roll with the punches and accept what has been placed in front of me. In a way it is like a game of chess, you need to let things develop and analyze the whole situation before you attack. Attack too early and you may find yourself in major trouble.” David was the 2003 chess champion at Hudson High School.
Since leaving Hudson, he has visited the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and is now making his way through Yellowstone National Park. David has also repaired his bike, purchased cold weather gear, met and broke bread with a retired couple on vacation, a bike shop owner and a woman traveling across country for job relocation.
David Shirley’s journey will no doubt leave him a changed person as he starts a new phase of his life but the donations may help others as well.
“I am a grassroots fundraiser,” said David, who has a link to his LIVESTRONG page on his Web site.
To follow his progress or donate to the cause, go to Shirley’s Web site at www.iCycleAgainstNegligence.moonfruit.com