Calaib Heiderich is going the distance to fight kids' cancer. All month long, Heiderich is biking in the Great Cycle Challenge USA in support of the Children's Cancer Research Fund.
The Great Cycle Challenge is made up of nearly 80,000 riders, who together have raised $4.6 million dollars and ridden over 1.3 million miles.
Heiderich thought he was starting low with his pledge goal of $1,000 and 500 miles.
"That is actually a daunting task, it really is," he said. "Once you get down to the actual miles, a mile in a car is a whole lot different than a mile on a bike."
Despite having an extraordinarily busy schedule, Heiderich is trying to push hard during the beginning of the month, to get miles out of the way, before it's really crunch time.
"From the time I wake up, to the time I basically fall over, I'm constantly moving," he said. "It's getting the miles in, from when I can jump out and do as many miles in the morning."
His routine usually starts with a morning ride around Arvig Park, and another ride in the middle of the night, after his shift at Swanson Machine ends at 1:30 a.m.
"Perham is not as big as you'd think it is," he said of his limited options to ride.
While he's not battling the trails themselves, Heiderich has to deal with a variety of elements.
"A lot of it is wind," he said. "For some reason it's 'great, good to go,' then I start doing the turn around coming back 'Oh no, there it is.'"
Then there are the bugs at night.
"I've eaten a few, quite a few actually," he said.
Nothing is worse than going by the cemetery in the dark though.
"It's creepy," he said.
An extra bright headlight and headphones are there to make sure he doesn't get too scared.
Despite the drawbacks, Heiderich loves riding at night for the solitude and cooler temps.
"You're focused on one thing and one thing only. More or less the only thing you really gotta worry about is getting hit by the sprinklers by the baseball field," he said. "Those will scare you. Bam, you get hit by water."
While riding at night helps him push through miles, morning rides give him an appreciation of his surroundings.
"You lose perspective of the overall when you're driving a car. You're not really seeing everything. At a slower pace on a bike you look out and just see the basic thing," he said. "A cornfield starting to grow and everything is green and happy looking."
"It's what I can do"
While Heiderich has been involved with a few different charities, this is the first long-term fundraising challenge he's accepted.
Riding in the challenge gives him the extra push he might not normally have.
"You get fatigued, real easy, about 15 to 20 minutes into a ride," he said. "You know how they say there's that runners high, there's also a biker's high. When you get to that point, your legs just start going, you don't think about it, you just go."
Once the high is on, Heiderich is more concerned about watching out for traffic than the pain he should be feeling in his legs.
Heiderich is also using the challenge to continue losing weight. He's lost over 90 pounds in the last year and a half, and was already down 7 pounds in the first week of the challenge.
After weighing 360 pounds, he couldn't take it anymore and "just got up and going."
Now he constantly tries to ride as much as he can.
"It's getting to the point where I actually enjoy it again," he said.
While racking up miles is one thing, the real goal is raising money for the Children's Cancer Research Fund. As of Monday, Heiderich had raised $519.35.
"Even though I'm just biking, and trying to raise a miniscule thousand dollars, it's what I can do," he said. "It's putting the effort forward to do something to push it into people's faces a little bit."
Heiderich mainly promotes his effort through Facebook updates on different pages locally. He's surprised at how challenging it has been to raise the goal.
"In reality, everybody thinks I should just all up my friends and ask for 10 bucks," he said. "It's one of those things you really gotta talk people into."
Heiderich would encourage anyone to participate in their own challenge in the future.
"You don't need to raise $20,000. There's people on the challenge that have signed up for $100 and 25 miles," he said. "Just send it out on social media, the more people they see donating, the more likely people are to do it."
"The weight loss is great, the opening your lungs and just going, is great. I love it, but I can do that on my own, this is something else."
Donations can be made at https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/CalaibHeiderich