Archive for April 15th, 2010

Although I have been working on this idea almost since dreaming up the plan for this Europe bicycle adventure, I didn’t have time to finish putting everything in place until today’s rest day in Hyéres, France (and didn’t want to fail the charity if my heart/body/mind weren’t up to the rigors of the ride), so I had delayed the announcement.

After already having become an Ironman triathlete, this year I’m taking the next step, which will result in personal growth and discovery, while also aligning with my professional goals of helping people throuh my new career in medicine. I’ll be attempting to become an Iron Phi – a distinction given to a small percentage of members within my Fraternity. The mission of Iron Phi is to strengthen the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity and the impact it has on the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease through the fundraising and athletic efforts of its members.

Lou Gehrig was a member of Phi Delta Theta, and our organization has taken an active role in finding a cure. The net proceeds will support ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) research, education, screening and treatment. It will also help strengthen an organization (Phi Delta Theta) that has had a lasting impact on my life.

According to The ALS Association’s web site, approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. This cause hits especially close to home for me, because my grandfather, Thomas Carroll M.D., a loving family man, devoted physician and icon of volunteerism in his community, succumbed to a disease similar (but not the same) to ALS in the spring of 2002. That’s why I’m becoming an Iron Phi. To do something bold about Lou Gehrig’s disease.

As you have been reading, I’m taking an unsupported and self-financed bicycle tour covering approximately 1500 miles along the coasts of Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. This difficult journey is a celebration of human-powered feats in support of a disease which robs its unlucky recipients of their bodies before their minds.

I’ve set my personal goal at $1000, but I would be ecstatic to raise one dollar for every mile that I bicycle. So I need your help. Would you please consider making a donation of $5, $10, or even $50? You can make a donation on this page by clicking on the “Make a Gift” link below the thermometer (the money will go directly to ALS, and none of it will go towards costs of my trip). You can also send a check to Iron Phi to me at my parent’s house (email me for the address) if you’d rather donate that way.

I hope that you’ll share this incredible adventure with me – by supporting me in my fundraising efforts and following my progress on this blog. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Nate Carroll

And as for the rest of my rest day… A little after 10:00 a.m. I stopped working/recharging in the bathroom and presented myself at reception to check in. They told me I could put up my tent anywhere, and I put it up in roughly the same location which I had kindly pleaded the security guard the night before to let me use. Oh well, it’s the campsite’s loss, since now they’d only be getting my money for one night of camping instead of two. It’s amazing how quickly a rest day can be eaten up with laundry, posting blog entries, reading about and mapping my future destinations, and eating. Surveying the other patrons of the campsite, I surmised that there must be really great windsurfing around Hyéres, because about 25% of the inhabitants of the campsite were living out of RVs and vans with windsurfing club/company/school logos, and their sails and boards were strewn across the grass near each van.

I found myself dozing off in the afternoon while trying to read one of my guidebooks (must be the four hours of sleep the previous night) and was close to taking a nap, but I resolved to call it a night a little earlier instead, in the interests of getting things done. In the early evening, I headed out for a walk, and ended up getting a “pizza americaine” with cheese and chopped beef. The large was only two euros more than the small, and I ended up with way too much pizza that I somehow managed to eat, justifying it by reminding myself that I planned another long day on the bike the next day and the beef was some of the only meat I had gotten so far on the trip.