Many of us have plans for Memorial Day weekend, but it’s probably safe to say no one out there in the respiratory care community is doing what Craig Smallwood, BS, RRT, is planning to do beginning this Saturday.
Along with his nearly 60-year-old father, the RT researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA, will be cycling 583 miles from Toronto, Canada, back to Boston. And he’s doing it all in support of the American Respiratory Care Foundation (ARCF).
In the following interview, Craig explains how he decided to embark on this great summer adventure and why he wants all the funds he raises to go straight to support respiratory care research and scholarship through the ARCF.
How long have you been cycling and what sparked your interest in the sport? Have you ever attempted a ride this long?
I’ve cycled as both a means of transportation and cross-training for a number of years. I cycle back and forth to work every day. If I’m honest, I don’t really count commuting as real riding though. I’ve cycled as a mean of cross-training for my primary sport, rowing, since high-school. Back in the day I was a national and world champion rower for Canada. I was recruited to row at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, for college. I’ve been here ever since. I still row periodically, but I ride my bike much more often.
I’ve never attempted a ride this long. The longest training ride I’ve done was 96 miles, which, along with some breaks on the way, took me about six hours to complete.
When did you get the idea to do this 583-mile bike ride on behalf of the ARCF and what went into the preparations? How long do you expect the ride to take?
I’ve wanted to do a long, multi-day ride for some time now, probably since college. Most of my training rides are between 30 and 40 miles (1.5 to 2 hours). I’ve also done some longer rides, like the 96 miler described above.
The plan for the #lungride for the ARCF is to complete 83 miles per day, regardless of weather or terrain/elevation. This means the total journey will take seven days to complete.
Why did you decide to make the ARCF your beneficiary?
Being a respiratory therapist and researcher, I know the work that the ARCF supports is essential. The ARCF works to support our patients and our profession through advocacy, research, and importantly, the dissemination of relevant knowledge to the field.
On a more personal note, my Grandpa (“Pa”), who I really looked up to, battled lung disease for a number of years. He was a lifelong smoker who quit and restarted often. He went before his time. Although my work isn’t directly related to COPD or smoking cessation, I think in many ways he’s the reason I became intrigued by pulmonary physiology and pathophysiology. Lung disease and the work of respiratory therapists is a big deal. To this day, one in five Americans die from smoking. It’s crazy. And lung disease remains a leading cause of death in the U.S. and Canada. I believe these are problems that can be solved and I believe that RTs and the ARCF are part of that solution.
You have a webpage set up for support and a really cute logo. What went into setting all that up and who designed your logo for you?
I wasn’t exactly going for “cute” … but I’ll take that as a complement. I put the logo together on my laptop and designed custom jerseys through an online performance apparel store. I’m using other popular platforms like crowdrise.com for the fundraising website. By the way, please donate! You can do so on my lungride page.
As of this writing, I’m 64% of the way to my goal of raising $2000 for the ARCF.
How will you be using your webpage and social media to keep people up-to-date on the progress of the trip?
I’ve set up a blog where you’ll be able to check out updates along the way. You can also track my progress. I’ll be using an application on my iPhone to share my location. I’ll also be sharing on Twitter (@CraigDSmallwood). So please check out the page, like, share, comment, and spread the good word!
I know from your webpage that you are riding through Eastern Canada and the U.S. What route will you be taking and where will you be stopping along the way?
We will start at the base of the CN Tower (which was once the world’s tallest free-standing structure) in Toronto and head east along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. We are going to cross the lake/St. Lawrence River via ferry close to Kingston, ON, and enter into the U.S. at Cape Vincent, NY.
From there we proceed southeast through New York state, passing through Schenectady and Albany. Once we get to Massachusetts, it’s pretty much a straight shot east, heading through the Berkshires (which will be the hardest day of riding due to elevation changes), passing close to Springfield, and eventually arriving at Copley Square in Boston. Piece of cake …
Are you trying to get any publicity for your ride in the places you go through?
I’m looking to be in touch with some news crews in the towns and cities we will be passing through on our way. Some staff at the AARC are also looking to connect with news outlets as well. If you happen to know anyone at a channel or newspaper in a town I’ll be going through, let me know!
Your webpage says your dad will be accompanying you on the trip. How did you get him involved and what do you think the trip will mean to the two of you?
It’s true. My dad, who will be 60 in June, is joining me. It was actually quite a production to get him to join in on the ride. Sometime over the Christmas holidays I asked him, “Hey Dad, want to do a 600 mile bike ride?” To which he replied without hesitation, “Yes.” He’s an old man (ok … oldish), but he’s tough and fit. I live and work in Boston, but I was born and raised in Ontario, north of Toronto, so I don’t get to spend as much time with family as I’d like. I’m really looking forward to hanging out with him. I think it’s going to be pretty special to share this adventure together.
Anything else you’d like to tell your fellow RTs before you head out on the ride?
Some shameless promotion before I go … I’m really amping up my social media game for the #lungride (see what I did there … hashtag … boom!). But I could use your help! Please follow me on twitter (@CraigDSmallwood), check out my blog, and like/post/share on Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever. You’ll be really helping out the lungride by getting as many people aware as possible. ALSO, if you are brave enough, and your bike isn’t too dusty, snap a pic of you riding and share with the hashtag #lungride to show your support. Thank you!
Craig Smallwood’s ride on behalf of the ARCF is just one of many ways you can contribute to the Foundation. From making the Foundation your beneficiary when you shop on Amazon.com to attending this year’s Night in the Grotto fundraiser at AARC Congress 2016, you can help advance respiratory care research and scholarship.