Retired Modesto police Detective Ray Taylor will hop on his customized bicycle this morning in San Diego and embark on a nationwide journey of endurance as a tribute of hope for his daughter and newborn granddaughter.
Taylor, 59, said his ride from California to Florida is an effort to raise research money to help find cures for melanoma and the birth defect spina bifida.
His 26-year-old daughter, Kristen Taylor-Cameron, an English teacher at Johansen High School, has been living with melanoma since 2003. His 6-week-old granddaughter, Grace Glaros, has undergone three surgeries for the treatment of spina bifida.
"These are diseases that are curable and I believe they will find a cure in the next generation," Taylor said. "We think we can make a difference for the next generation."
He is paying his expenses, so all donations will go for research at University of California at San Francisco's Melanoma Center and the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Taylor hopes to raise $10,000 for each cause.
His wife, Yvonne, said their daughter has gone through a tough series of treatments, and has been cancer-free for 16 months.
"But she lives her life from scan to scan," she said.
After they learned their granddaughter also would be dealing with a life-altering condition, the Taylors agreed that something needed to be done to help their family and others.
Taylor will attempt to ride 100 miles each day on his Bacchetta Giro recumbent bike. It's customized to give him support during high-elevation climbs.
The frame of a recumbent bike allows riders to travel long distances without wrist, arm, shoulder, neck or back pain.
The bike's seat and large marathon racer tires will help absorb the potholes and bumps on the back roads as Taylor travels 3,160 miles from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., in the northeast part of the state.
Taylor will travel mainly through Southern states. He wouldn't estimate how long it would take but said he would have a better idea once he reached Texas.
The bike was built to fit his body; he's 5 feet 6 inches tall and 140 pounds.
"I think I will be able to finish this trip without any physical problems," said Taylor, admitting his body doesn't recover quite as well as it used to.
He is an experienced cyclist but said this will be the first time he will attempt steep climbs on the recumbent bike at a 100-mile per day pace for more than seven consecutive days.
If he needs to take a day's rest, Taylor said, he will. It's not a race against time but more a test of stamina to raise awareness, he said.
The Taylors said this daunting challenge is nothing compared with the challenges their daughter and granddaughter face.
"It's a huge effort," Yvonne said about her husband who turns 60 in August. "But a huge effort is needed to raise this money."
He won't be alone on the road. His friend since high school, Mike Zimmerling, will drive a four-cylinder Subaru hauling a 5-foot-by-10-foot camping trailer built by Taylor with all the amenities needed to survive without motel rooms.
Zimmerling, 59, of Placerville, was going to ride as well, but he ruptured his Achilles' tendon.
Instead, he will drive ahead and wait for Taylor.
Zimmerling will have the trailer ready for Taylor to take breaks.
"Even if I didn't want to go, I would still do it, because it's such a worthwhile cause," Zimmerling said.
"There's no way in the world I would let him go by himself. This is a really a life and death situation for his daughter and his granddaughter."
To make a donation or view Ray Taylor's daily blogs with video of his coast to coast ride, visit www.raysride.org. To view a
Modesto police produced video about Taylor's fund-raising effort, visit www.modestopolice.com/MediaRelations/default.asp.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.