Northwest NEWS

June 29, 1998

Local News

WHS substitute takes part in national bike ride

   by Woodinville Weekly staff

   WOODINVILLE--Randy Wheeler rode off into the murky sunrise on a recent Monday morning, headed east as part of what may be the largest bicycle ride in history.
   Appropriately, it's called 'The Big Ride.'
  
   Wheeler, and about a thousand other cyclists, are riding 3,200 miles to Washington D.C. to raise money for state chapters of the American Lung Association.
  
   A 39-year-old south Everett man, Wheeler is familiar to Woodinville High School students who may have had him as their business education teacher or as a sub this past school year.
  
   He says he's on the ride for three reasons.
  
   "Challenge," he says in his Texas drawl, "excitement.... .and vacation." Riding about 80 miles a day, the riders will reach the nation's capital by August 1. Wheeler said President Clinton or Vice President Gore will attend a rally for clean air and healthy lungs then.
  
   Wheeler might not have been able to take the trip if he still smoked.
   "I started when I was 12 or 13-years old," he said, due to peer pressure. "You do stupid things." Two grandfathers and two uncles died from cigarette-related illnesses, he said. He quit seven years ago last March.
  
   From the Seattle Center, the cyclists headed east on I-90 to Ellensburg then cut southeast to Kennewick. From there they'll ride east through Missoula and Billings, Montana, Rapid City, South Dakota, Madison, Wisconsin, Sanduski, Ohio and then into Washington D.C. Some of the bicyclists have had lung transplants; others have had amputations, Wheeler said.
  
   "It'll be a fully supported ride, one large community moving across the country."
  
   To participate, he had to raise $6,000, and says that all money he and other Washington riders raise will stay in state. Woodinville GNC is sponsoring Wheeler by supplying him with herbs, vitamins and proteins.
  
   He has been riding for the American Lung Association for the past seven or eight years. You can track the riders via Internet by logging onto www.bigride.com, or email them at bigride@gte.net and then entering the rider's name and number.