Le Grand native riding cross country for MS

A Le Grand native is competing in a transcontinental bicycle race and raising money for a cause along the way.

Dave Elsberry graduated from LDF in Le Grand as a part of the class of 1969. He describes himself simply as “a farm boy from Iowa.”

The Race Across America (RAAM) is a 3,000 mile bicycle race which started in Oceanside, Calif. at noon Pacific time on Tuesday, and will finish at the harbor in Annapolis, Md. This is Elsberry’s third time competing in a transcontinental bicycle race.

Ultra athletes from around the globe have come to compete in the event. The race crosses a desert and three mountain ranges.

Elsberry, 63, is attempting to complete the race in just 11 days.

“We know we have 3,000 horizontal miles and 170,000 feet of vertical climbing. Beyond that, we have no idea what we’ll encounter,” Elsberry said.

Sleep deprivation is also a major factor in the race, as the clock never stops from the time the race starts until the racers cross the finish line.

He rides to raise funds and awareness for MS, as well as for the Child and Family Foundation and also to prove that age is just a number.

“I have people thanking me for inspiring them to get up off the couch, whether it’s hiking or biking or whatever change in their lifestyle. And that’s part of my motivation to keep doing this and show that age is just a number,” Elsberry said. “I’ve had three or four speaking events and I want to build on that … I have a passion for what I’m doing and as long as I stay healthy I want to keep chasing this.”

This year Elsberry has a personal goal – to better the record for the age 60+ category of 11 days, 3 hours and 25 minutes at 11.27 mph set in 2008 by David Jones.

“He and I have done double century after double century against each other,” Elsberry said,

“And I don’t want it to sound wrong, but typically it’s not a contest. At the Hoo Doo last year he told me how he had perfect conditions when he set that record. Mother Nature, we’re not going to beat her. She can smile on you or she can frown on you. But if everything is right to beat the record I’ve got to take more than a day off my best. If I can accomplish the record this year then I can back off a little and have fun with it.”

Ultimately, Elsberry is taking the challenge because he can, and because his cause – multiple sclerosis often results in severe neural and muscular impairments.

“To me riding is a reminder each day of how lucky I am because I can ride,” Elsberry said.

Elsberry’s non-profit organization, which fundraises for the National MS Society, is called Dave Rides.

You can donate money, goods and services to Dave Rides to help forward the cause by visiting daverides.com.

Elsberry is the son of Helen and Larry Elsberry, of Marshalltown.