Magnolia man spins his wheels for cause

David Udoff of Magnolia is pictured on the Island Line Trail in Vermont in 2017. An avid cyclist, he will ride 50 miles in the Pan-Mass Challenge to help raise money for cancer research and patient care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston next month. (Submitted photo)

MAGNOLIA — David Udoff loves the idea of exploring the world by bike.

“No matter where I am, whether it’s out doing errands or on a road trip, if I see someone on their bicycle, I get a little jealous. Like, I want to be that guy,” the Magnolia resident said.

“Anytime I pass what looks like a bike trail, I make a note of where it is and then look it up on Google Maps. Pretty much anywhere I go, I think about what it would be like to bike it.”

On Aug. 3 and 4, cyclists from 12 countries and 43 states, including Mr. Udoff and five others from Delaware, will convene in Massachusetts to participate in the 192-mile Pan-Mass Challenge to help raise money for cancer research and patient care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Cyclists can take on one of 12 routes, which pass through 47 towns and range from 25 to 192 miles Mr. Udoff expects to bike about 50 miles of the course.

“This is my first time doing this,” he said. “I had decided to do PMC when my good friends David and Debbie Morris invited us to their son Ben’s bar mitzvah up in Sharon, Mass. David, Debbie, and Ben are all riding in the PMC, and as part of Ben’s bar mitzvah project, he is publicizing his participation for the event.”

Many ride to honor a family member or friend who has battled cancer. More than 950 riders and volunteers are cancer survivors, or current patients themselves.

Mr. Udoff said he’s riding for all of those who have been affected by cancer.

“Ben, who is 13 thankfully doesn’t have cancer,” Mr. Udoff said. “Both David and Debbie have been touched by the disease in their immediate families. David’s mother has fought and beaten breast cancer. Debbie’s mother, sadly, lost her battle with lung cancer in 2003. And I know David has had other family, as well as some friends, who have either beaten or are still battling the disease.

“As for me, my mother’s mother died from cancer in 1971, three years before I was born,” he added.

Mr. Udoff cycles in the Ocean State Tour De Cure in South County, Rhode Island, which benefits the American Diabetes Association.

“My father’s father had cancer, but he was also very old when he passed in 2006. I had a cousin who died from leukemia 10 years ago this month.”

Mr. Udoff said he’s excited for the upcoming challenge, as he participated in similar races before.

“For the past several years I’ve been riding in the Tour de Cure, which benefits the American Diabetes Association (in Rhode Island),” Mr. Udoff said. “But because the timing with Tour de Cure wasn’t going to work out for me this year, I had to pick a different event. So I’m doing PMC for the first time. Later in the year, I’ll be doing Escape NYC up in New York in September.”

Participants are required to raise between $600 and $8,500, depending on their chosen route.

Mr. Udoff has raised $1,140 so far, thanks to the generosity of his family and friends.

“I’ve been posting the link to my fundraising page periodically on my Facebook page, but the donations really started pouring in after I emailed a bunch of my family and friends,” Mr. Udoff said. “E-mailing and having that direct, personal contact seemed to really do the trick.”

“But I’m happy to be a part of this event, especially given how generous my friends and family have been with their donations,” he added.

He said riding as much as possible is how he plans to prepare for the upcoming event.

David Udoff of Magnolia is pictured at the Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure. His upcoming 50-mile trek in Boston will be the longest he’s ever ridden. “In fact, the longest I’ve ever biked in one day is 40 miles,” Mr. Udoff said. “This upcoming ride could get interesting. Hopefully, it won’t be for all the wrong reasons.”

“I’ll ride anywhere from 10 to 20 miles early in the year, depending on how much time I have between work, family, and other obligations,” Mr. Udoff said.

“I then gradually build up to the longer distances until the event itself.

“This spring and summer I’ve been trying to reserve at least one weekend day for riding at least 30 miles or so.”

But he said he never cycled 50 miles in a day before so this upcoming race will be a challenge he’s wiling to accept.

“In fact, the longest I’ve ever biked in one day is 40 miles,” Mr. Udoff said. “This upcoming ride could get interesting. Hopefully, it won’t be for all the wrong reasons.”

Mr. Udoff said his main goal is to finish the ride.

“I would love to be able to tell you I have some surefire secret formula for this,” Mr. Udoff said. “My main goal is to simply not cramp up and to finish the ride. The good news is that when I do rides like this, adrenaline tends to take over, and I’ve felt good enough toward the end that I’ve felt like I could have gone five or 10 more miles if I really needed to.

“I would think that should prove helpful considering this will be my first 50-miler.”

But Mr. Udoff said he’s looking forward to the race.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with my friend David Morris,” Mr. Udoff said.

“I don’t know what kind of biking shape he’s in, but he’s been rather impressed with the distances I’ve been riding lately, so maybe he’ll be the one trying to keep up with me.

“But I can see this just being a lot of fun. With these kinds of rides, like I said, it’s all about adrenaline, and then at some point I kind of just get in the zone, if you will. It’s like, after all the preparation, the fundraising, the anticipation, the pre-race festivities, and everything else, but from start to finish it’s just my bike and me.”

Other Delaware cyclists will beGretchen and William Hurtt of Middletown, Bill Wallach of Newark, John Berryhill of Wilmington and Reed Dempsey of Wilmington.

To make a financial contribution or become a virtual rider, visit www.pmc.org, or call (800) WE-CYCLE.

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