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Man biking around Michigan to benefit nonprofit

Tim Ward tells Malcolm Campbell he is leaving to Cheboygan and takes off from Bayview Park in Alpena.
Zipporah Abarca
/
WCMU
Tim Ward tells Malcolm Campbell he is leaving to Cheboygan and takes off from Bayview Park in Alpena.

With an RV traveling close by, Tim Ward bikes 2400 miles around Michigan in the span of 25 days to raise awareness on the initiative Trace Michigan by Chance for Life.

Chance for Life is a 25-year-old nonprofit organization that works with nine prisons across Michigan to provide support services inside and outside of the system to prepare inmates for readapting to daily life.

Ward said the President of Chance for Life Tom Adams and Executive Director Jessica Taylor travel to different facilities throughout the state six nights a week to help transform inmates critical thinking and decision-making skills.

They work together to train “the leaders, the core members” of inmates so whenever Adams or Taylor is unavailable, the leaders can teach their fellow inmates the curriculum, Ward said.

Tim Ward pauses for a break by some cows in his 2400-mile trek across Michigan.
Courtesy of Malcolm Campbell.
Tim Ward pauses for a break by some cows in his 2400-mile trek across Michigan.

However, there is a societal structure within prisons, he added, and it is hard to gain credibility as someone on the state payroll for instance.

“They have to get the leadership of the inmates to agree to this, because otherwise no one's going to participate,” Ward said. “And so, they sit down with the leaders of the different gangs, people who do not get along, … and get them to agree to what this program is about…”

The nonprofit is funded out of Adams’ own pocket and passion. Although there have been some grants here and there, Ward said Adams uses his own income from his executive search company to run the program.

This is also where Ward’s efforts come in. He said his mission with cycling 2400 miles is to raise money and raise awareness for the organization – which people can donate to the nonprofit by visiting chanceforlifeonline.org/donate.

Just to put it in perspective, Ward mentioned how the Tour de France is 2100 miles. Even though France has much more hills than Michigan, Ward’s 2400 trek is about as far the distance from Michigan to Los Angeles.

Ward is not only the cyclist for tracing Michigan, but also the president of Michigan Legislative Consultants. He has been biking for seven years and said he wouldn’t have been able to do this ride without his training.

“I got really serious about six years ago -- I have a cycling coach,” Ward said. “It was way to marry my passion and put it to use for somebody other than just me.”

Tim Ward does an interview over zoom in the RV about his 2400-mile bike ride as he takes a break.
Courtesy of Malcolm Campbell
Tim Ward does an interview over zoom in the RV about his 2400-mile bike ride as he takes a break.

He has had some people join him on his journey so far, but for the most part it is just Ward and Support and Gear Crew Chief Malcolm Campbell on the road. Campbell holds down the fort in the RV and is referred to as a camping expert by Ward. Campbell said it is often he has to catch up with Ward who bikes quite fast.

The two started the trek July 10 in Detroit and they expect to be finished August 3 when they return to the city. Ward said he rides Monday through Saturday for a little over seven hours a day and takes Sundays as a rest day.

Ward said he bikes over 100 miles every day with water, food and media interview breaks in between.

He mentioned that the average amount of calories people has to eat a day is about 2000 calories. But every day he is burning 3,300 calories, therefore needs to eat 5,500 calories a day.

Ward demonstrated his jersey has built in pockets to store food with him on his journey.

“You have to keep your energy levels up because otherwise you'll just [be] in a world of hurt and you never want to get there…,” Ward said. “That’s where having Malcolm in the RV is so helpful because … it adds a ton of weight to the bike if you have to put a day's worth of food on your bike.”

At a roadside park along M-25, Tim Ward (right) and Matthew Makowski (left), who is joining Ward for the beginning and end of the trip, stop for lunch.
Courtesy of Malcolm Campbell
At a roadside park along M-25, Tim Ward (right) and Matthew Makowski (left), who is joining Ward for the beginning and end of the trip, stop for lunch.

When asked what it is like to travel through Michigan on a bike, he said you take in things you wouldn’t have observed if you were to be driving a car.

“It's a beautiful state,” he said. “So, it's a fun way to see it.”

Although some would think the most challenging part of this experience is biking 2400 miles, Ward said that was the part he was most prepared for since he bikes every day.

The real challenge came in when they started planning the logistics for the event, he said.

“I got to the point the last few weeks where I just wanted to get done with all of the planning and the logistics and just get on the bike and get to the fun stuff,” he said.

Now that the hardest part is over and he is on his cycling adventure, Ward said he is most looking forward to accomplishing the ride and hopefully seeing his and the organization’s goals come to fruition with greater awareness and donations.

“And then we can build from there,” he said.

To learn more about Chance for Life visit its website at chanceforlifeonline.org.