Beloiter plans cross-country bike ride as polio benefit

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Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Former Rock County Court Commissioner Jim Van De Bogart is preparing to ride a bicycle across the country from September through October.

BELOIT - Former Rock County court commissioner Jim Van De Bogart, 68, is gearing up for another cross-country bicycle ride with a goal to help raise funds to eradicate polio around the world.

Van De Bogart will be joined by over two dozen riders from all corners of the globe in taking the 3,400-mile Southern Route from Santa Barbara, California to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over the course of Sept. 19 to Oct. 30 with Trek Travel.

The avid cyclist says although they will be averaging around 90 miles per day, the days are broken up into 20-mile rides with multiple groups of bikers moving at varying paces. Van De Bogart trekked across the country three years ago, and he feels he's in even better shape for his latest ride.

"It's not a given that someone my age and with those issues (diabetic) can do that stuff," Van De Bogart said. "You try to go at a steady pace."

But the ride isn't all about biking, he says, and said he plans to make some scenic stops along the way, among them being the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

"I'm going to take it easy, work hard and do the ride," Van De Bogart said. "I am better trained, I am lighter and I think I know what to expect."

To train, Van De Bogart has spent the last year doing long distance rides, recently biking a lengthy route across the state of Wisconsin. His motivation for doing the ride came after his mother Mildred passed away last year. He signed up for the ride a day after she passed away.

Along the way he says the biggest challenge will be staying motivated to ride.

"The hardest thing is staying positive when you are tired," Van De Bogart said. "You have to put your head down and keep going."

Through the Beloit Rotary Club, Van De Bogart will look to raise funds along the way for the Rotary's mission to end polio.

Every $1 pledged will be matched by $2 from the Gates Foundation, boosting pledges. The Beloit Club is donating $2,500 towards the cause.

Those who would like to donate can send donations to the Rotary Club of Beloit and Van De Bogart is in the process of setting up an online presence to follow his progress and allow for e-donations.

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