Two weeks after completing a grueling bicycle race that ran from Oceanside, Calif. to Annapolis, Adam Driscoll ’04, information systems, is still waiting for sensation to return to his fingertips.
Driscoll’s hands are still numb from gripping the handlebars of his Cannondale geared bicycle for a week. But he says that the lack of feeling is a small price to pay to take first place in the two-man division of the 2009 Race Across America (RAAM) – a 3,000-mile contest which they won in a time of seven days, one hour and 33 minutes.
The other member of the winning team, Patrick Blair ’03, computer science, is also a UMBC alumnus. The two men met when they were runners on UMBC’s varsity track team. Racing together under the name of their non-profit organization (Adventures for the Cure), the duo bested a pair of Slovenians who chased them from the outset and two other two-man teams in the race.
“To push yourself like that and to race like that, you truly feel alive,” says Blair. “You are truly, truly alive. There were nighttime shifts for like two hours where I would put my angry-music headphones in and race up those hills.”
The ardors of the race included a week in which the only sleep came in the passenger seat of a moving van. But while the physical sacrifices and satisfaction of competition excite Driscoll and Blair, the charitable aspect of their cycling also plays a big role in their ambitions.
Inspired in part by Driscoll’s life with Type I diabetes (he was diagnosed at age 12), Adventures for the Cure focuses on raising money for scientific research and for camps for children with diabetes. The charity also supports Kupenda for the Children, an organization that assists children with disabilities in Kenya.
Raising money for a camp for teenagers with diabetes is one of the duo’s recent endeavors. Driscoll says that the goal of the project is to show campers that diabetes is a manageable condition and it is possible to be athletic and adventurous while living with the disease.
“It’s also good for young diabetic kids to see other kids with diabetes and know that they’re not alone,” says Blair.
Driscoll and Blair – who have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences – have taken on extreme-cycling challenges like RAAM to raise money since 2005. Their first such challenge was a ride from Baltimore to Ocean City in two days, which netted $7,000 for charity.
Faith has also played a role in their endeavors.
“We got involved in a Bible study,” Blair recalls. “I guess we really became more Christian after college – and along with that came this desire to do something that mattered other than just work. It seemed like we had accomplished everything, graduated from college, got good jobs and everything, but we weren’t really doing anything to make a difference.”
Matching their love of cycling to causes that they believe in has made a difference. It’s also made the topic for a documentary film. A cross-country ride that the duo organized with their friend and fellow UMBC alumnus Jesse Stump ’06, engineering and information technology, was the subject of a film called Adventures for the Cure: The Doc. The project took the trio of riders on a three-month fund-raising ride from the state of Washington to Maryland on single-speed, fixed-gear bikes.
In 2008 the duo completed their first RAAM challenge as part of a four-man team, which they admit was a little easier to complete than this year’s journey.
“It was like 80 percent harder,” says Blair of the two-man trip.
“The four-person was like a party, like a fun time,” Driscoll concurs. “You had 12 hours off the bike…” “And you only had to bike 110 miles a day,” says Blair.
For more information about Adventures for the Cure visit http://adventuresforthecure.com/