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On a mission, with a message

A bicyclist on a cross-country ride has a goal: to fight hunger and homelessness - and train for the Olympics.

By MARY ANN KOSLASKY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001


A bicyclist on a cross-country ride has a goal: to fight hunger and homelessness -- and train for the Olympics.

INVERNESS -- In 1995, David Michael Anthony broke his back and spent 18 months in bed. He was told he might never walk again, let alone ride his bicycle in the Olympics, as he had hoped.

On Friday, Anthony, 30, stopped at Suncoast Bicycles Plus in Inverness on the final lap of his Millennium Ride Against Homelessness and Hunger, an adventure that began on Valentine's Day in 1998.

His odometer read 33,840 miles, tallying a trip that started in Newport Beach, Calif., and has taken him south to Key West, north to Portland, Maine, west across the northern states, then north to Anchorage, Alaska. On Friday, he was on the second leg of a ride to cover all of the interior states, and then it's home to Newport Beach.

During his ride, Anthony has spoken at every opportunity, telling people that hunger and homelessness are 365-day-a-year problems. He has sought donations from companies and individuals, asking supporters to pledge a penny a mile or about $50 for this final leg. The money is donated directly to local homeless shelters or food banks in his name.

The ride also is his training for the 2004 Olympic Games, where he hopes to compete in bicycle road racing, bicycle road time trials and velodrome cycling. In June, he will compete as part of the Schwinn Mountain Bike Team in national road and track championships as a step toward the Olympics. Later in the year, he will visit Colorado, where a mountain biking competition will be held.

Anthony tows everything he needs in a 20-foot-long stainless steel bicycle cart known as an Olympic training sled. It weighs 650 pounds empty and often more than 1,000 pounds full. His hope is that using this sled will help him build the speed, strength and endurance an Olympic champion needs. Nights are usually spent under the stars, camping in parks and along roads.

He has already met 38 state governors, and he hopes that Florida's Jeb Bush will be next.

Web site

You can track Anthony or make a pledge online at www.MichaelDavidAnthony.com and e-mail him at david_anthony@hotmail.com.

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