Naperville cyclists preparing to take part in Tour de Cure

Susan Frick Carlman
scarlman@stmedianetwork.com | @scarlman
June 28 4:40 p.m.

The Naperville nonprofit dedicated to fighting childhood cancer is taking a trip across the pond.

Three local cyclists affiliated with the grassroots nonprofit Bike Bald will be the only Americans among 186 riders taking part in the Tour de Cure, an event set for July 23-27 that’s designed to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Debbie Mossburg, Bike Bald founder and a three-time cancer survivor, will be joined by Andrea and Frank Kazmierczak to represent the U.S. on the ride.

Each of the trio covered the $1,200 cost for participating in the London-to-Paris ride, and set a goal of raising a sum for the cause sufficient to match or exceed that amount. Contributions have come in the form of equipment and supplies, such as the Garmin shirts donated by Slipstream Sports and the protective head gear that came from Bell Helmets. Major sponsors McDonald’s, Fair Oaks Ford, Starbucks and Pepsico have helped them raise more than $6,000 so far.

The ride shines an upbeat light on a somber challenge that the riders take to heart.

“We’re up to 26 kids around town (fighting cancer) now,” Mossburg said.

A seasoned cyclist and marathoner, she met the Kazmierczaks at a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event for Bike Bald where Andrea, a stylist at Zano Salon in downtown Naperville, was wielding the clippers.

“She was an inspiration, all that she’s been through,” said Andrea, who hasn’t taken part in a long-distance charity bike ride before this one.

At 325 miles, the Tour de Cure route is a much-downsized counterpoint to the professional cycling world’s Tour de France, which will wind 2,277 miles through southern England, the French Alps and the south of France July 5 to 27. Competitors in that iconic ride sponsor participants in the cure-focused event, itself a substantial trek for most amateur cyclists.

The three local riders are doing what they can to prepare to average upward of 80 miles on each of four consecutive days. They’ve been training regularly, taking trips to FermiLab and back, and pedaling throughout the community in preparation for the trip. They took part in the 102-mile 15th annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride through a portion of northern Indiana on June 21.

The unusual adventure on the other side of the Atlantic next month is the farthest-reaching one so far for Bike Bald, which also has a full calendar centered much closer to home over the coming weeks. Plans range from farmers market trips to a September St. Baldrick’s event, the only head-shaving event on the organization’s schedule, to a series of themed rides that head for the Naperville Park District’s Concerts in Your Park locations, rolling out from the skate park at Centennial Beach.

Also planned is the inaugural Tweed Ride on Oct. 18, where high-wheelers, bowler hats and vintage cycling apparel will be de rigueur. Participants signed on to be part of that event so far include the Naperville Woman’s Club and NaperBridge — but the more the merrier.

“We want that to be a Naperville organizations coming together event,” said Mossburg, who intends for the Tweed Ride to become a local fall tradition.

Between now and then will be the Exchange Club’s massive Ribfest celebration over the Fourth of July weekend. Mossburg learned late last week that Raj Sahsonnie, who is preparing to build a Dunkin’ Donuts on the site of the shuttered Citgo station at Washington Street and Hillside Road, is opening the location that weekend to parking, to be managed by Bike Bald, with the $20 fee going to the kids’ cancer cause.

More information can be found at www.bikebald.com.

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