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Avid bicyclist Roger Netsch is preparing for a new cycling challenge this spring.

The former Indianola High School educator has ridden more than 30 Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, three Ride the Rockies and several other state rides.

In March, Netsch and five of his cycling friends will bike across the southern part of the U.S. The 3,010-mile bicycle ride will start in San Diego on March 1 and end more than a month later in St. Augustine, Fla. The cyclists will pass through Phoenix; El Paso and Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, La., and the northern part of Florida. The total trip includes about 40 days of riding, with some rest days built in. The group will stay in hotels along the route and will be followed by a support van.

“I think it’s going to be pretty cool to see that part of the country from a bike seat,” Netsch said last week.

The group consists of Netsch, of Indianola; Ron Smith of Indianola; Bob German of Dallas Center; Brian Myers of Dallas Center; Phil Matiussi of Adel and Allen Cohrs of Council Bluffs. They range in age from 52 to 63, and a majority of the group members are former educators. All of them are members of the Tall Dog Bike Club of central Iowa.

This will be the first cross-country bicycle ride for many of the group members, Netsch said. They have been planning the ride for about eight years, he said.

“One of the reasons we decided this is the year to do it is none of us are getting any younger,” said Netsch, 53. “You kind of look at the end of your life and think what are some things you’d like to do. Just about all of us are avid cyclists and have wanted to do this. This was part of my bucket list.”

All of the guys are training for the ride. Since the winter weather will not allow them to ride their bikes outside, Netsch said, many are regularly going to the gym to keep in shape.

“We’re all trying to make sure our bodies can physically handle 40 days of riding,” he said.

The group will be riding an average of 70 miles per day. There is a stretch through Texas where the group will be riding more than 100 miles on consecutive days. The route follows bike-friendly roads and has been approved by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Since the trip is scheduled during the spring semester, Netsch had to request an extended leave of absence from the Indianola school district in order to participate. READ MORE...

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