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Biking to beat breast cancer: Five friends on a mission to Mexico

by Mr Roger K. Olsson Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2007 at 9:15 PM

Giuen Media

Monday, July 23, 2007 Jul. 23, 2007 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) -- Robbie Handy, Chris Oakes and Roman Duchateau wanted one last hurrah before entering the real world after college. They thought a bike riding adventure might be fun. 'Then we figured, why not do it for a good cause?' Handy said. The friends formed a five-man bike team, Biking for Breast Cancer, and planned to leave today to ride from Half Moon Bay to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. They hope to raise ,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to help find a cure for breast cancer, said Oakes, 23, of Marysville. 'Even though it's predominately a female disease, they're not alone in this fight,' Handy said. To date, the five have raised ,186. They need donations of non-perishable foods, bike gear and gas cards to help them make the trip. The men picked breast cancer as their cause because Handy's sister Megan and aunt Jackie are breast cancer survivors. The three also knew that the cause might inspire their friend Tony Amaral, 22, of Turlock, to join them because he lost his mother, Maria, to breast cancer in August 2005. 'It kind of lifted a burden off myself,' Amaral said. 'I always wanted to do something spectacular.' Once the four set their goal, their friend Mike Zawlocki, 23, decided he was going along for the ride. 'I basically told them I was coming and there was nothing they could do about it,' Zawlocki said. They plan to travel about 60 miles a day and arrive in Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja California in eight weeks. 'We're not trying to Lance Armstrong it and go 150 miles a day,' Zawlocki said with a laugh. Oakes said the men have been told to 'stop and smell the roses' along their journey, and they will. They consider themselves physically fit and said that, even though they have minimal bike-riding experience, they cannot be discouraged. 'Whatever we lack in biking experience, we make up in motivation,' Amaral said. 'This is the most motivated any of us has ever been.' They have trained for two months and tried to ride about 40 miles a day, but the fundraising cut into their training time. 'It's going to be a challenge,' Handy said. 'None of us have ever done anything like this.' The men plan to keep travel journals and maintain a blog on their Web site, Four of them will ride while one drives a 1977 Dodge RV. They plan to switch drivers every day. Handy said one of their biggest worries is that the RV could break down, leaving them without a place to sleep and forcing the team to carry 60 pounds of gear on each of their backs. They don't have plans after their arrival in Cabo San Lucas, Handy said. They might go their separate ways, ride some more or choose a new cause and a new direction. All five quit their jobs to become full-time fundraisers for their mission. The best parts of fundraising are the stories they have heard and the gratitude they've received, Handy said. He recalled meeting a young boy at a Marysville grocery store. The boy's mother had breast cancer, and he wanted to hear about the experience of Handy's sister. 'He had this smile on his face,' Handy said. 'I told him people do make it. There are survivors.' Appeal-Democrat intern Ashley Gebb can be reached at 749-4724 or Newstex ID: KRTB-0131-18339280 Delivered by Newstex LLC via

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