Steamboat Springs With each stack of flapjacks and bowl of pasta, Steamboat's Gary Gianetti is knocking each of the 50 states off his list - 8,000 calories and 100 miles at a time.
"I just keep riding, eating and sleeping," Gianetti said by phone Sunday, en route to Jacksonville, Fla.
Starting Aug. 18 with the Steeple Chase Bike Tour in Willimantic, Conn., Gianetti began a project to ride 50 separate 100-mile cycling rides, in each of the 50 states, in 50 consecutive days. Since the Connecticut ride, Gianetti completed "century" rides in New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and a rainy Savannah Bike Fest ride Sunday in Georgia.
"It was pouring - the wettest century I've ever ridden," Gianetti said. "But it was good because there were 25 people riding with me to draft with, to make the ride doable."
Throughout the tour thus far, Gianetti's energy and passion for his ambitious project has created a wealth of hospitality, from donated hotel rooms each night to plenty of riders willing to accompany Gianetti on the rides.
Gianetti said the debut ride of the trip inspired 30 family members and friends from his native Connecticut to join him on the road. On his Massachusetts ride, the Blazing Saddles Century, he rode with 500 tour participants on his 29th birthday.
"We had the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge the next day, which had about 5,000 people riding, and it was really inspirational - Lance Armstrong rode in it and it was great to ride with so many people with, 'in honor of,' jerseys on," said Gianetti, who was inspired to spread his countrywide message of healthy lifestyle choices after he lost his mother to lung cancer in 2003.
He also noted how fast Armstrong did the ride, in three and half hours.
Gianetti said he typically spends five and a half to six hours in the saddle a day, averaging 17 to 18 miles per hour. But he is increasing speed with flatter rides as he moves south. After Monday's Florida ride, Gianetti completed the East Coast states. He is now heading through the south and then back west, with Sept. 25 circled and highlighted on the calendar. That's when Gianetti returns home to complete the Tour de Steamboat course, hoping to have enough juice left to climb Rabbit Ears and Gore passes.
"I kind of forget what day or state we're in at times, but I think it will be good to head west again," Gianetti said. Going from ride to ride and meal to meal, Gianetti said he often keeps things on a short-term perspective.
Visit www.healthyaltitudes.com for full details on the project - titled "Ride for Life" - including cancer research/project donation information, a tour schedule and updated blog reports from the road.