REGION — At the time of his retirement, Dr. Jim Quigley said he would like to stay active, spend more time hiking and backpacking even biking and doing some charity work.
Now Quigley, 66, the retired doctor of 37 years is combining two of those wants — biking and charity work — into one major challenge.
Quigley, a Carlsbad resident and former doctor at the North Coast Medical Center in Encinitas, along with his friend Kevin McCauley, will be starting Sunday off with their wheels in the Pacific Ocean before pedaling across the country until they reach Revere Beach, Mass., just a couple of months later.
Quigley said he and McCauley are doing the ride for a number of similar reasons: The appeal of the adventure, the meeting of new people, a bucket list item — but Quigley also wanted to see if, at his age, he had enough left in the tank to accomplish it.
“It’s kind of interesting to get to this point where you’re saying, ‘Do I still have it in the tank to do this kind of a ride.’ So that’s the physical challenge that I’m looking forward to overcome — the uncertainty of it,” he said.
And yet still, there’s the bigger purpose of it all that they expect will keep them going — the continuation of the work by their friend Mike Ramirez to raise funds for research and finding a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Ramirez passed away from ALS in 2012.
“There’s no ‘we’re so tired we decided at Kansas this was a stupid idea,’” said McCauley, 65, an Encinitas resident and general contractor for the past 38 years.
They’re in it to finish it, he explained.
As a former patient of Quigley’s, McCauley said during visits they’d talk every so often about biking, but it was during a seven-day hiking trip in Peru that the two really began seriously talking about biking across country.
“It kind of morphed into the Peru trip and then it was solidified on a mountain bike ride when Jim said he was still thinking about it. And I said, ‘Absolutely, I want to do it,’” McCauley explained.
Thirteen months of training later, the pair are leaving May 8 with a group comprised of an international cast of bikers; some are from England, others from Scotland and more from around the U.S.
“I like seeing how far I can go, how far I can push myself,” Quigley said. “This is my Mount Everest.”
Knowing that the ride will not only be challenging physically, but mentally, too, Quigley will rely on the concentration and focus he used to get him through medical school to help.
“I do have a tendency to just go, go, go,” he said of the physicality of it, adding, “I think the mental side is the name of the game.”
The body, he said, adjusts — gets stronger as the ride goes on.
For McCauley his mental preparation has come through “a lot of Zen meditation,” he said. But he’s always been into playing sports, he added.
“I’m just going to try and handle it — just considering myself as from a young kid — just being a jock…seeing at 65, how far deep into the pain cave I can go,” he said.
“What we’re doing, I wish it were a little more extraordinary and very few people have ever done that,” McCauley said. “People have been riding across the country and riding across the country for causes for decades and decades. It’s nothing fresh or new.
“We’re going to do it and see how we handle it,” he added.
Perhaps the only thing that could get them off their bikes is the weather. By the time they reach the Midwest they’re anticipating lightning storms, even tornadoes.
The two will be blogging about their experiences along the way, and for McCauley, he said his best thinking comes while he’s riding a bicycle.
There’ll be some writing from his heart, he said, but he’s got what he calls a real “off-the-wall, zany sense of humor,” which will probably show up in his posts, too.
“I think the blogs will show all kinds of emotional ups and downs that come with the experience,” he said.
Visit their blogs at wheresmacnow.com or jqsbigadventure.com to follow them on their journey. The Coast News will be reprinting some of their blog posts periodically until June 24 when they’re expected to reach the East Coast.