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State High Senior Completes 500 Mile Bike Trip for Diabetes Awareness

by on March 28, 2016 3:00 PM
Boalsburg, PA

Lewis Yeaple is an avid cyclist, and having been diagnosed with type one juvenile diabetes at the age of 4, he wanted to show others that the disease doesn't need to hinder having an active lifestyle and pursuing activities they enjoy.

So Yeaple, a State College Area High School senior, got on his bike last Thursday and spent the rest of the weekend into Monday riding 515 miles, all while raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Along the way he was joined by local cyclists who wanted to show support. 

"The community really showed up and helped me throughout the way," he said as his "500 in 5" ride came to an end at Mount Nittany Middle School Monday afternoon. "I couldn’t have done it without them."

Yeaple decided two years ago that he wanted to create an event to raise awareness and money for diabetics around the world. He created 500 In 5 as his graduation project and set up a Crowdrise page where supporters can donate. Through Monday afternoon he had raised about $3,000, well beyond his initial goal of $1,000.

"I wanted to show people, other diabetics that they could go out and ride 500 miles," he said. "Diabetes isn’t holding them back." 

The ride began at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the State High South Building and took two trips on the Martins Loop. Friday began at the PA Millitary Museum and took Yeaple on the 102-mile Century Loop. Strong headwinds on Friday made the second leg of the trip the most challenging, and support riders who joined him during the trip did what they could to shield Yeaple from the wind.

Day three took Yeaple through Spring Mills, Millheim and Rebersburg then back and on to Mount Nittany Middle School to wrap up the day. On Sunday, he and fellow riders again took on the Century Loop and on Monday concluded the trip with a loop starting in Boalsburg and passing through Pine Grove Mills, State College and Lemont.

About five to seven riders were with Yeaple at any given time, alternating to stay fresh while Yeaple endured the entire 500-plus miles. State High science teacher Jack Lyke, who kept a blog throughout the trip, said initially support riders planned to stay in front of Yeaple to block winds and make sure he stayed as rested as possible. 

"What most of quickly realized is that Lewis is so strong that we needed to keep him behind us so he did not 'rip our legs off' (a term used when a crazy fast rider puts you to shame)," Lyke wrote. "So now we do just that, we block him from riding in the front so the pace stays manageable for the rest of us. And we really are along for Lewis' ride. He is amazing."

It took considerable training in advance for Yeaple to be able to complete the 500 mile ride. He biked twice a day -- once before school and once after on weekdays -- for two hours at a time, putting in about 80 miles a day.

But it was also the support of the local community that helped him make it through.

"This was all possible because of the community and I'm really thankful for it," Yeaple said.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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