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Biking across America for the NCCC

Last year, Raymond Book (pictured above) turned 60, retired after 38 years of working in the microbiology lab at DHMC, and bicycled coast-to-coast across the United States.

Book left Everett, Wash., with 49 other cyclists on June 18 as part of a program called "Coast-to-Coast Challenge," and he ended up in Gloucester, Mass., on August 19—4,200 miles later. Local people provided meals along the way, and the riders stayed at campgrounds and schools. The concept appealed to Book, who likes meeting people and camping out. Since he would miss the annual Audrey Prouty Century Ride, a fundraising event for Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC), he decided to raise money en route for the NCCC, as well as the Dayspring Pregnancy Center in Lebanon.

The trip lasted nine weeks, with the riders averaging 75 miles a day. An "off day" was scheduled each week, so there were six days of riding and then a day of relaxation. The group traveled through 11 states and one Canadian province. They also saw four of the Great Lakes and crossed Lake Michigan by ferry.

Book enjoyed the other riders in his group, as well as all of the people he met along the way. The first day out in Everett, in a gym where a group meal was being served, he met a Korean girl wearing a Dartmouth sweatshirt. In Wyoming, he was just getting ready to leave a rest spot after filling up his water bottle when a rancher stopped his truck to ask what was going on. Book explained that they were biking coast to coast. The rancher asked if it was a benefit, and Book told him about his two charities. The rancher whipped out a $10 bill. "He didn't know me from Adam," says Book.

"I started out knowing no one, but we were all like a family at the end," he adds. "I had a blast." A.R.W.

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