Tour to Endure
Derry cyclist makes cause a family affairBy HUNTER McGEE
Union Leader Correspondent July 20. 2014 8:32PM
DERRY — For the second straight year, cyclist Rich DiSalvo is ready to go the distance for people with autism.
DiSalvo crossed the length of the Granite State last year on a two-day ride, raising more than $1,000 for Autism Speaks, an autism research and advocacy organization.
This year, he is prepared to pedal all the way from Maine to Florida in the second part of the three-year fundraising effort dubbed the “Tour to Endure.”
The 49-year-old Derry resident is scheduled to leave from Kittery Point, Maine, at Fort McClary State Park on Tuesday.
Along the way, DiSalvo will be accompanied by his wife, Sue; daughters, Christina, 19, and Jennifer, 8; and sons, Joe, 21, and James, 17.
“I’m ready to go,” said DiSalvo, who has set a fundraising goal of $5,000. He’s scheduled to cross over the Florida border on US-17 near Yulee, Fla., on Aug. 8.
He plans to complete the third and final stage of the Tour to Endure next summer, on a cross-country ride of more 3,000 miles — from Oregon to Hampton Beach.
After years of running marathons, DiSalvo decided to try cycling about four years ago after suffering a herniated disk.
He still runs one day a week and participates in the occasional 5K race.
He completed a long ride on July 12 to prepare for the grueling 1,400-mile trip.
“I’ve been riding a lot of miles, really — the last three years and last summer and right through this year,” he said.
For the second stage, he will routinely complete daily rides ranging from 75 to 100 miles, he said.
“I really tried to concentrate on being able to do back-to-back-to-back long rides, so I think I’m in good shape for that,” he said.
“I’m not in a hurry, so the idea is to get the miles in,” he said. “I’m not looking for speed.”
DiSalvo’s wife will head the support crew on the road, handling most of the driving and setting up at each campground where the family stays.
His children plan to do some riding on the trip. Christina, who turns 20 on Aug. 3, will spend part of her birthday pedaling, her dad said.
Other family members also plan to participate. DiSalvo’s brother, Steve, who lives in Chelmsford, Mass., intends to ride from Derry to Sturbridge, Mass., on the second day of the trip. Another brother, Phil, who lives in Nashua, will ride from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania.
The family has been directly affected by autism, DiSalvo said. Two of his relatives, an older brother and a nephew, are autistic.
“One of my older brothers is autistic but was not properly diagnosed when he was young,” DiSalvo said. “Not as much was known about autism 50-plus years ago.”
He said that starting the campaign for Autism Speaks was a “natural thing to do.”
DiSalvo said he hopes to build on the momentum from last year’s ride and raise even more money.
“Having so many people involved has really helped spread the word through emails and social media, and that’s turned into additional donations for Autism Speaks, which is what it’s all about,” he said.
New for this year is the addition of a raffle, DiSalvo said. Black Bear Lodge of Waterville Valley has donated the grand prize, a two-night stay at one of its deluxe suites.
To donate to Autism Speaks on behalf of the Three Stage Tour to Endure, visit http://fundraise.autismspeaks.org/Markslist/campaign/display/profile.do?campaignId=2221. For more information visit the Three State Tour to Endure Facebook page.