This is Carolina: Myrtle Beach man prepares to cycle across country for second time

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Nineteen years ago, Mike Wolfe cycled across the country.

He was invited to do it with a friend for a purpose, but this time he’s doing it by himself. It’s a ride greater than the perseverance it requires to complete. It’s ‘Ride for the Sun II.’

“Thirty-nine days. 3,440 miles. I ride 36 of those days,” Wolfe said.

Decked out head to toe in gear, Wolfe was about to begin one of his final days of training in Myrtle Beach. He has ridden over 5,000 miles since November to prepare. Most of those miles have been cycled up and down International Drive.

“Other than a little more hill-climbing, I don’t know how much more ready I could be,” Wolfe said. “I’ve put the hard work in this time, real hard work.”

Wolfe has been training for his second ride across the country with the support of his wife, Gladys. He completed the first ride 19 years ago, a journey that began in Seattle and ended in Casco, Maine at the camp the ride is for, Camp Sunshine.

“It’s a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. Each week at the camp is specific to a particular disease or cancer. So, they’ll bring in 40 families and it gives the families a chance to build a network and a support system of other parents and children who know exactly what they’re going through. Then the little kids all feel normal for a week. Because they’re running around with other little kids with their little bald heads, and they just get to feel normalcy and they get to get their life back for a week,” Wolfe said of why the camp inspires him.

He said the families who visited each week tracked his trip, kept up with him and cheered him on when he ended the ride at the camp. It’s one of Wolfe’s fondest memories that make him emotional to this day. Many of the kids who followed along with his journey in the beginning of the trip had passed away by the time he finished it, he said.

The ride is also inspired by Wolfe’s son, Michael Wolfe, Jr., who died at the age of 10 in a car accident in 1996.

“I wanted to do something to memorialize him. I wanted to do something to kind of help me, and I’m thinking what better way to memorialize my son than to give these parents a chance to make memories, a chance for hope,” Wolfe said. “He loved baseball. We lived on the lake in Maine, and he liked to fish and boat and just, he was a good little guy. He was a Mainer. Can’t get that from here.”

Wolfe kicks off his second Ride for the Sun on Sunday, July 11, in Santa Monica, California and will finish in Yorktown, Virginia.

He said he’s looking forward to touring the southwest, and seeing it from a cyclist’s point of view.

He’ll ride through the Petrified Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and up through Texas, Oklahoma and more of the country’s heartland.

Wolfe said the Cascade Mountains of Washington state and Glacier National Park in Montana were his favorite scenic routes during the first trip.

His wife is his biggest cheerleader. A cancer survivor herself, she’s excited to watch Wolfe accomplish this dream again.

“I just think it’s huge. I’m a cancer survivor so this camp for kids and what he’s doing, I’m just so proud of him. I wasn’t with him when he did the first trip, so to be part of this, I think it’s amazing and I’m just looking forward to the adventure and seeing what the Lord has for us along the way,” Gladys Wolfe said

Each hotel and route is pre-booked. Wolfe said he uses Adventure Cycling for maps, which include information like elevation gain, the safest roads, descents and grades.

Wolfe wants to thank Barefoot Resort and Golf for the support. He begins his 39-day ride Sunday, July 11, by dipping his tire in the Pacific Ocean. WMBF News will follow along with his journey to Virginia.

Wolfe completely pays for the trip himself. All money raised goes straight to Camp Sunshine, where Wolfe and his daughter also volunteer.

For those who’d like to learn more about Ride for the Sun II click here to go to the website and to donate. Click here to learn about Camp Sunshine and how to donate.

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