Derry cyclist completes 1,400-mile ride to raise autism awareness
DERRY — With the tireless support of his family, cyclist Rich DiSalvo has completed a 1,400 mile bike ride from Maine to Florida to raise money and awareness for people with autism.
DiSalvo pedaled into Yulee, Fla., Thursday night, a day ahead of schedule, to finish the second stage of the fundraising effort dubbed "The Tour to Endure."
And the 49-year-old Derry resident said he couldn’t have made the grueling trip without his family, who accompanied him on every mile of the journey.
“They’ve been incredible — this has been the definition of a team effort,” he said.
DiSalvo began the trip on July 22, leaving from Kittery Point, Maine, at Fort McClary State Park. He set a fundraising goal of $5,000.
DiSalvo crossed the length of the Granite State last year in a two-day ride, raising more than $1,000 for Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization.
He plans to complete the third and final stage of the Tour to Endure next summer in a cross-country ride of more than 3,000 miles from Oregon to Hampton Beach.
DiSalvo was accompanied on this ride by his family: wife Sue, daughters Christina, 19, Jennifer, 8 and sons Joe, 21 and James, 17.
The trip was challenging on many levels, but overall went well, said DiSalvo, who responded in an email.
He said the best part of the journey was when he was able to ride with his children and brothers.
All of his children rode with him during various times on the trip, he said.
His brother Phil was able to ride with him several times. And he also rode with brothers Steve and Dave on the second day of the trip.
He said the ride afforded him views of some incredible scenery, including vast swaths of farmland and verdant fields.
“I’ve gone through so many small towns and on so many quiet roads — farmland as far as the eye can see … and ridden on city streets and then roads with no one in sight for miles,” DiSalvo said.
So far, he said the fundraising tally is around $4,000.
New for this year is the addition of a raffle to help raise funds, DiSalvo said. Black Bear Lodge of Waterville Valley has donated the grand prize, a two-night stay at one of their deluxe suites and there are other prizes as well, DiSalvo said.
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 additional information as well as information on a raffle, new this year, visit the event Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Three-Stage-Tour-to-Endure/641436889270618