Listen to Austin 360 Radio

70-year-old Austin man pedals coast to coast

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 23, 2013

When Ken Harris rolls into Portsmouth, N.H., today, he’ll have 3,850 miles under his bike seat. If he can still walk, he’ll have plenty to celebrate. Since Harris, 70, started his trek June 2 in San Francisco, he’s crossed three mountain ranges, pedaled past plenty of cornfields and given his quads the greatest workout of their lives. He’s also raised more than $5,000 for the Davis Phinney Foundation, which helps people with Parkinson’s Disease cope with their diagnosis. (Phinney was a professional bike racer in the 1980s and ‘90s before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999.) Harris, who works in real estate in Austin, dedicated the ride to his 91-year-old mother and 63-year-old brother, both of whom have Parkinson’s Disease. “In spite of the many drugs available for relief of symptoms, there’s still no cure,” Harris says. “Every day is a struggle.” Harris made the trek as part of a group ride, with about two dozen other cyclists. It’s fun to read his posts on Facebook, where he’s mentioned everything from the brown cow ice cream float he slurped down somewhere between Pennsylvania and New York, to the scenery he’s passed along the way. On June 5, a few days into the ride, he posted this: “OMG!! Most difficult bicycle ride of my life today. Over 8,000 feet of climbing - Auburn to Truckee through Donner Pass. Beautifull sights.” But a month later he wrote this: “I still am blown away with the endless beautiful countryside and farms and ranches … Today we had several problems from high water. Detoured over some steep hills or just went wading. Made for another long hard day. Two 100+ mile days in a row can be tough on an old man.” For more information about the Davis Phinney Foundation go to www.davisphinneyfoundation.org. To donate in Harris’ name, go to www.dpf.kintera.org/createapledge/kensride.