Six days, 300 miles for ALS

Group riding in memory of former ski lift operator

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— On the fourth day, the six bicyclists rested.

Riding a bicycle from Vernal, Utah, to Georgetown takes endurance and determination, but it is a trip Cody Smith started planning when he was 6 years old.

"I said, 'Hey, Dad, let's bike to Denver,'" Smith said Wednesday, sitting in the shade above the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. "He said, 'Maybe when you're older.'"

Cody Smith, now 15, and his brother Brett are seeing Cody's dream through. Their father Terry Smith, who was more of a skier than a cyclist, is with the crew in spirit.

In June 2005, Terry Smith died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Steamboat held a special place in Terry Smith's heart, cyclist Jon Hughes said. Terry Smith was a ski lift operator at Steamboat Ski Area while he was in college.

By riding a bicycle from Vernal to Georgetown, the group of cyclists and support crew is hoping to raise money for ALS research and increase awareness about ALS, a devastating disease of the nervous system.

There is no known treatment for ALS.

On Tuesday, the group arrived in Steamboat, 75 miles after starting the day in Maybell. On Wednesday, they took a rest day and visited some of Steamboat's popular summer spots.

"This is our first time to Steamboat in the summer," cyclist Denise Hughes said. "We usually come in the winter to ski."

To make contributions for ALS research, mail Basin Clinic, attention Dr. Arnold, at 379 North 500 West, Vernal, Utah, 84078

Today, they will climb from Steamboat to Krem--mling, traveling over Rabbit Ears Pass along U.S. Highway 40.

Thus far, the trip has been rewarding for the children and adults riding and traveling behind at 15 mph. They agreed that stretch between Dinosaur and Maybell was the most difficult, but they were preparing for today's climb.

"They kids are carbo-loading to get ready," joked Laura Baden, who is serving as support.

To prepare for their six-day, 300-mile trip, the cyclists held organized training rides and did some individual work. With the help of the support crew and encouraging honks from drivers passing by, the cyclists still had smiles Wednesday.

"We were going to do this on a mountain bike," Cody Smith said. "That would have been harder."

The group would like to do another ride and may even have a June tradition on their hands. Little is known about ALS, so raising public awareness is an important step.

--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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