HOUSTON/TALKEETNA - Hundreds of cyclists hit the Parks Highway for the American Lung Association’s annual Clean Air Challenge. KTVA’s Brett Shepard and Kate McPherson took part in the two-day, 120-mile journey.
It started early Saturday morning at Houston High School with the KTVA team, “11 Up,” gearing up for the ride. Brett made sure he had the essentials.
“Definitely need a little of this here, a little butt butter goes a long way.”
Brett’s a Clean Air Challenge veteran and was able to snag Kate, an unsuspecting rookie for the team.
“Mainly it was Brett sucking me in and I will blame him for everything, including my sore butt, on Monday,” said Kate.
Brett and Kate joined hundreds of people making their way to Talkeetna. Both have their own reason for ride.
“I suffer from asthma - not much fun when you're exercising and you can't breathe. That's the reason why I'm a part of this,” said Brett.
“I have a grandfather who passed away last year from emphysema, so today's really riding for him, and I think when I get to the hard stages and I'm really, really hurting, I'll be thinking about him,” said Kate.
After 20 chilly miles, the team made it to the first rest stop in Willow, but the trip was far from over.
“Looking pretty good so far,” said Brett. “I'm a little worried about Kate. It's a little cold for an Australian today.”
Kate agreed. “I'm wrecked, I'm so wrecked and we're not even, we're like a third of the way there. My butt hurts and it's pretty chilly with the wind.”
A little refueling with granola bars, and some hot tea and they’re good to go for another 40 miles. Their spirit was still high as they neared the end.
“Woo!” shouted Brett as he passes by.
After hours of pedaling, Brett and Kate pushed through the finish line. Sixty miles done. Now it was all about the mental preparation to get ready for 60 more miles the next day.
“I'm ready to go! I think Kate's going to be in for a shock tomorrow when she wakes up,” said Brett.
An exhausted Kate sat on the ground stretching her muscles. “I'm going to have a hot shower and some water and possibly think about doing this again tomorrow. No, I have to. I will,” she laughed. “I'll be up again, I will. I might just have to lay here for a minute though,” as she stretched out on the pavement.
All eight "11 Up" riders made it through the entire 60 miles on Sunday, completing the 120-mile round-trip journey. Altogether they raised more than $4,300.