In February, Doug Warabak, a retired postal worker from Exeter, rode his Trek Road Bike across Florida. I touched a wheel in the Atlantic at Vero Beach, three days later I touched a wheel in the Gulf, he said.
That three-day ride gave him the idea to try to pedal all the way from Pennsylvania to Florida.
Warabak, 60, is a member of Pittston Moose Lodge 1207.
One day in the Lodge social quarters in West Pittston he was talking to Lodge Administrator Bernie Cassetori who asked, Did you ever think of doing the ride as a fund raiser?
On Saturday, in conjunction with the Lodge's 100th anniversary celebration, Warabak will embark on his bike ride to Florida dubbed Doug's Tour de Moose to raise money for the Moosehaven Endowment Fund. Moosehaven is a retirement community near Jacksonville, Florida, which will be the one of the final stops on Warabak's trek.
Warabak used to be a runner. About four years ago he switched to bicycle because it is easier on his legs.
To plan his trip he joined the Adventure Cycling Association, a resource for bicycle traveling. The association provided him routes, mapping and survival tips.
They have maps of proven trails and they break it down to 30 mile segments, Warabak said. Bicycles are prohibited on interstates and turnpikes. The route follows secondary roads and dedicated bike trails and requires two ferry rides. His map shows bike shops along the route.
His first segment will follow Rt. 115 to near Allentown, from where he will go to Philadelphia to connect with his son, Nick.
He hopes to cover the 1,300 miles through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in 22 days pedaling a minimum of 50 miles a day. They say after the first week the soreness leaves your body you might extend it out to 90 or more, he said.
The ride is almost eight times as long as his previous longest ride, the 170 miles he covered crossing Florida in February.
He'll pack three spare tubes and a patch kit, a tent, bed roll, sleeping bag and may stay in a couple of the dozen or so Moose lodges he hopes to visit.
Warabak is on his way to Florida now.
He left yesterday in his truck. He plans to leave the truck there and then fly back here Thursday before his Saturday departure.
While in Florida this week he is going to stop at Moose Lodge 2366 in New Port Richey, the terminus of his bike journey. I'll be making a personal appearance, so they know I'm serious.
Lodge members or the public can pledge to sponsor some of the miles on Doug's trip. Stop by the Moose Lodge 425 Exeter Avenue in West Pittston or send a check for any amount to Doug's Tour de Moose, 425 Exeter Avenue, West Pittston PA, 18643.