2006 Iron Man Bike Ride
500 miles Memphis-New Orleans
Troop 33 - First Lutheran: DeKalb, Illinois

500 miles Memphis to New Orleans
June 2006

While enduring a heat index of 110 degrees, Troop 33 Scouts rode bicycles nearly 500 miles to raise money for relief efforts following Hurrican Katrina.

The route began in Memphis, Tenn., and took them all the way to New Orleans, La.

Though more than two months was spent training with long rides for physical conditioning, nothing could have prepared for this.

For seven days, bicycling from 45 to 80 miles each day, midday temperature indexes always topped the 100 degrees mark.

The searing heat and humidity created the most brutal conditions to bike in.

Special care had to be taken to maintain proper hydration levels, and we were constantly alert for symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Our ride took us bicycling hundreds of miles through a tortuous southern heat wave so we could raise thousands of dollars to help rebuild storm-damaged libraries.

The route went from Memphis, Tenn. to Tupelo, Miss., then followed the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, cutting diagonally across the state to Port Gibson, Miss., then finally south to New Orleans.

Past fields, forests and farms, up and down hills, through sleepy little towns, hundreds of long steaming miles, overcoming several flat tires and a broken chain, the Scouts concluded their cycling adventure in New Orleans, which is often called the “Big Easy.”

While the ride was “big,” there was nothing “easy” about it.

After a week of sweat and hard pedaling, we arrived in New Orleans and rewarded with one day visit to the great city. We enjoyed exploring the french quarter of downtown with a nice lunch and visit to the Saint Louis Cathedral, said to be the oldest Cathedral in America, founded as a Catholic Parish in 1720 along the Banks of the Mississippi River .

At the newly restored Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, we presented a check for $3,000 at the national convention of the American Library Association.

The presentation took place at the convention's opening ribbon-cutting ceremony before an audience of 10,000 librarians.

Our 500-mile ride was used as a publicity tool for promoting the special relief fund for the American Library Association.

We became a news item on the radio. We were surprised when we first heard a news item on the radio reporting Illinois Boy Scouts were biking to New Orleans to raise money for Hurrican Katrina damaged libraries.

After the presentation at the ALA Convention we were surprised by being interviewed by television crews. Afterwards we enjoyed exploring the 1,600 exhibit booths at the ALA convention before leaving for our 2-day drive home.

The ALA Hurricane Katrina Library Relief Fund will help rebuild libraries in the Gulf Coast region damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The fund rose to $370,000 that week; of which $3,000 came from our efforts.

We also had a short visit to the town of Pass Christian, Miss., where Troop 33 Scouts had done relief work on earlier trips in December and April.

Pass Christian is showing signs of progress with clean-up efforts, but in New Orleans, entire neighborhoods still are comprised of ruined buildings waiting to be torn down.



Troop 33 began hurricane relief efforts back in September; just days after the storm struck the Gulf Coast. We conducted fundraising breakfasts to raise money for the Red Cross, continuing relief efforts by collecting more than six tons of critically needed supplies, which was transported to Mississippi and Louisiana during school vacations in December and April.

During the December and April trips, our Scouts helped cook more than 7,000 meals for victims and volunteers, conducted a Christmas banquet for homeless military families, helped operate a distribution center serving 400 families and worked at animal rescue centers in New Orleans.

We also donated books to Pass Christian Public Library, several hundred Bibles to the Lutheran Disaster Relief Center in Biloxi and donated funds to Scout Troop 316 in Pass Christian. During the past 10 months Troop 33 has raised more than $13,000 to benefit hurricane-relief efforts.

We took part in history and will always carry with us many powerful images of Hurricane Katrina's devastation and our own first-hand experiences of the enormous recovery efforts.

More than 50 Troop 33 Scouts and parents have taken part in the various hurricane-relief efforts since September.


In 1995 a group of 13-year-old Scouts decided to have a program called "Iron Man". The Iron Man program involves bicycling across the width and breadth of America through a series of bike rides conducted over several summers. Each segment would include riding 250-550 miles at a time.

The 2006 Memphis-New Orleans ride is the last segment of the North-South route across America, stretching from Thunder Bay Ontario Canada to New Orleans, Louisiana.

The East-West portion will stretch from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and the Pacific. The final stretch from Couer d'Alene, Idaho to the Pacific Ocean might be scheduled sometime in the future.

Cliff Golden



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