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Adkins leads by example in Reach the Beach ride

By riding 100 miles on Saturday, May 17, Dick Adkins of Lake Oswego figures he can do a lot of good for people.

The event is called Reach the Beach, a ride for thousands of bicyclists sponsored by the American Lung Association of Oregon, and Adkins' commitment to it is quite serious. He does not want people to die prematurely of lung disease, the way his father did.

'My dad died of emphysema. He was quite a smoker,' Adkins said. 'I've seen pictures of Black Lung and that is exactly what he had. He was 68 at his death, and in our family the men live to be in their 80s or 90s.

'Reach the Beach is just a way to get people to stop smoking. More women smoke than men today, and that is not the way it used to be. Smoking can kill you at a young age. I don't think that should happen to anybody.'

Adkins credits bike riding with drastically improving his health and fitness. It is hard to believe when you look at him now, but he was once 225 pounds and had a huge waistline. Now the 65-year-old Adkins is a slim, trim and strong 150 pounds, more befitting his background as a college athlete.

Thus, Reach the Beach is way for Adkins to maintain his commitment to fitness and also honor his father.

'I've been riding in Reach the Beach for about six years,' Adkins said. 'A friend told me about it. He said, 'This is a longer ride like you've been looking for. It looks like an interesting one.' I thought, 'This is one ride I could probably do in remembrance of my dad.'

But Adkins has not only ridden in Reach the Beach. He has brought many others into the race by training them in 12 rides that lead up to the big event.

'I've been doing this for the past four or five years,' Adkins said. 'These rides are 34, 35, 49 miles, and the Champoeg ride has a lot of hills. It tells you who really wants to do it.'

Usually there are 16 to 26 riders who show up for Adkins' training rides, although 'we had a low of five on a rainy Saturday. But on May 17 I expect at least 20 people out of it.'

He added, 'It will also get more riders for the Portland Wheelmen (a bike riding club of which Adkins is a member). We get seven or eight members a year from this. They think it's fun and want to ride some more.'

That is why Reach the Beach will have at least 5,000 participants.

Adkins has fun, and he certainly loves the way bike riding has helped him get in great shape. But he also wants to fight cancer, which helps explain why he wears a yellow wristband from Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

'I believe in helping,' Adkins said. 'One way is getting these rides.'

The ride starts from five different locations: Portland, Corvallis, Salem, Amity or Grand Ronde and represents five different distances (110, 100, 80, 55 or 26 miles). All routes end in the Pacific City area.

For additional information about Reach the Beach, go to www.ReachTheBeach.org or call 503-459-4508.