* * * I have permission from the local "Belleville Times" newspaper to copy word for word on my web page. The article you are about to read is from June 6, 1996 by Richard Dickon the editor. It is called "Positively Belleville" mainly on page 4. The article has been modified a bit.
'Big Mike' Rides Again
* "Big Mike" Dowd, Belleville's favorite bicyclist for Multiple Sclerosis, is again attaining new heights in his ride for MS. Being blind in his right eye and deaf in his right ear has been little impediment in Mike's completing bike tours since 1990.
* Most recently, Mike rode his fourth consecutive "Coast the Coast" Multiple Sclerosis 170 mile bike tour, from Sandy Hook to Cape May on May 4 and 5. His total in pledges are $852.00. Part of Big Mike's story is overcoming the ups and downs (literally) of bicycling. This time around, the sudden appearance of the sun on Route 35 Southbound in Seaside Heights camouflaged a sink hole. Mike hit the hole without seeing it, and lost control of his bike going over 20 miles per hour.
* Mike saw himself crossing into traffic, closed his eyes and, miraculously, found himself between two lanes with no cars around. "When I turned my head around, I saw both lanes full of cars heading this way," Mike remembered. Mike grabbed his bike and ran backwards, coming out of the ordeal with some scrapes, but not enough to deter him from finishing all 170 miles. His speedometer was not so lucky, being smashed. For the first time, Mike reported no pain in his knees and even improved his time by five minutes.
* It is no surprise that Mike came out his latest tour more resolved than ever to continue. "I'm not a quitter. A crash like that won't stop me," he said. My past encounters with "Big Mike" convince me that he won't stop. Overcoming hearing and visual impairments didn't. For someone with so-called handicaps (I prefer to see him as "special"), Big Mike does more for people more physically challenged than himself than anyone this side of Rich Ruffalo (1995 U.S. Teacher of the year). Indeed, "Big Mike" shines as a "special" kind of role model. Ride on, "Big Mike . . ."