* * 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 August 17, 1995 by Richard Dickon the editor. It is called "Positively Belleville". The article has been modified a bit.
* NOTE: The Northern New Jersey Chapter and the Bergen-Passaic Chapter have merged to form the Greater North Jersey Chapter as of October 1995.
'Big Mike' rides high on MS bike tour "
* Michael "Big Mike" Dowd age 25 can cycle as far as any young person in America, flouring impressively on his bicycle.
* Winding his way through MS bike tours, the last encompassing 170 miles, "Big Mike" turned to bicycling as a preferable alternative to driving. "I really want to drive, but my vision is bad, and won't be able to pass an eye test. Pedaling a bike is better than a car anyway, because you don't have to pay all that really high insurance or big bucks for broken car parts. You just have to be in shape to pedal the distance you want to go."
* His bicycle is a Miyata 112 with a blue/white frame, a blue/black leopard handle and his "lucky charm," a troll on the front handle of the bike saying "I love biking."
* "Big Mike" first embarked on the Bergen/Passaic Chapter Diet Pepsi MS-100 bike tour once a year, beginning in 1990. The tour ran from Ramsey, N.J. to Port Jervis, N.Y., with two days along the state border to the finish. "The part I liked about this tour was the big downhill part on the first day of the tour. It was steep uphill, too," Mike remembered. He continued on the tour through his share of problems, including going off track, getting a flat, and even flipping over a rock on the first tour.
* After a few years on the MS-100 tour, Mike said " I wanted to ride a bigger tour, because the 100-mile tour was getting easy," So, in 1993 Mike undertook the Mid-Jersey Chapter MS-170 bike tour. The tour starts in Sandy Hook, N.J. This prove to be quite a challenge, and Mike recalled "I could never make the whole 170 miles. In 1993, I only had eight miles to go and I could not go any farther, because I was tired out by the second day. In 1994, I only rode 131 miles, just south of Atlantic City, on hurting knees in pouring rain on the second day."
* The 1995 Mid-Jersey "Coast the Coast" MS-170 tour turned out to "Big Mike's" greatest triumph yet as a cyclist, including conquering the Route 152 bridge, a sort of Mt. Everst for Mike. " I make it to the last rest stop thinking I could not make it to Cape May, but I made it to the end for the first time. I fell off my bike and almost hit my head on the fire hydrant. I was so relaxed and happy on the ground. This is going to be one tour I won't forget," he said. He will, of course, be right back out there making the trek from Sandy Hook, N.J. to Cape May, N.J. in 1996. The 1995 tour was shared with his friend, Jeannie Tompkins who he congratulated on stopping one mile short of the 50 mile beginners tour because of sore legs.
* Mike insisted on thanking all who pledged for his MS-170 tour, including: Belleville Elks, with $110.00; Friends of Fewsmith Presbyterian Church, with $60.00; his mother's friends from ADP in Parsippany, with $58.00; close friends and family, with a total of $55.00 and the Old Guard Chapter 26 with $30.00. He raised a total of $313.00 for Multiple Sclerosis. Anyone wishing to ride in the MS Bergen/Passaic Chapter MS-100 bike tour can call (201) 967-8687; for Mid-Jersey, either the beginners 50 mile or the MS-170, call (908) 681-2322, (908) 828-1455, or (609) 586-5406. It would be an honor for any cyclist to share the trail with "Big Mike."
* "Big Mike " also has kind words for the MS Society and the tour, saying "the people on the tour are great. They make sure everyone is okay." Anyone who meets "Big Mike" comes away knowing he is a lot more than just "okay." I am someone who has to drag himself out on the track to job a few miles a few time a week, so Mike's high-spirited dedication to cycling is inspiring. The next time I am to tempted to whine about the difficulties I have in exercising. I will see Mike's smiling face and press on with a smile of my own . . .