Ric Schrank's life goal is to cycle the distance to the moon and back. His mission this summer is to get his students there - or as close as possible.
The industrial technology teacher and vice principal at Virginia City High School is planning to traverse the country by bicycle twice this summer while at the same time raising money for his students to compete in the Great Moonbuggy Race next spring.
Schrank plans to take off from his Virginia City home on Thursday. He will ride to Gardnerville, then take Highway 88 west over Carson Pass into California. His original plans had to be scrapped because most of the mountain passes are still closed due to snow.
Once he hits Monterey, Calif., he will turn around and head through Death Valley into Las Vegas and continue east until he reaches Kitty Hawk, N.C., when he will take the north route back to Virginia City.
Although he has twice cycled across the country, it will be his first time riding there and back.
"I've been waking up with dread for the last couple of months," he said. "Do I really want to do this?"
However, he said, as the day approaches his excitement is growing.
"I'm ready to go," he said.
He plans to ride about 120 miles per day, completing the entire trip in about 60 days. Logging long days in the saddle is nothing new to Schrank, who started riding competitively at 19.
For the last 143 months, he's averaged 1,130 miles biked per month.
"It gives me time to think," he explained.
He progressed from century rides to 500-mile races, but is limited now in what he can do because of back problems. Although he will eventually need fusion surgery, he manages the pain now as best he can, needing the occasional epidural.
He said he feels best when on a bike, but will bring along a note from his doctor in case he needs treatment along the way.
He knows how solitary and uncomfortable life on the road can be, so he's grateful for his wife of two years, Stephanie, who has agreed to drive the support vehicle along with their dog, Sid.
"Without her, I'd be lost," he said. "Having a nice hot shower, your wife and your dog always 30 miles ahead of you makes everything easier, even in the middle of Kansas with a head wind."
Since he started keeping track in 1999, he's ridden nearly 250,000 miles, getting him just past the approximate 225,622-mile distance to the moon.
"I figure I'm on the dark side of the moon now," he said. "Gravity will pull me back."
YOU CAN HELP
Ric Schrank is working to bring a team of six kids to Huntsville, Ala., to compete in NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race in spring 2012.
The students in his industrial problem solving class will build a collapsible, two-person, hand-powered buggy to compete on a three-quarter-mile course.
Their goal is to not only participate, but to win the Rookie of the Year award.
Schrank estimates it will cost about $10,000 for the material and travel expenses.
The team is seeking donations to cover expenses. Depending on amount, sponsors will get a spot on the team T-shirt or on the buggy.
• $10-$200 sponsors will get a spot on the T-shirt
• $201-$400 sponsors will get on the shirt and the buggy
• $401-$600 sponsors will get larger spots on both
• $601-$1,000 sponsors will get prime spots on shirts and buggy
For more information, go to storey.k12.nv.us/vchs. To donate, send donations to Virginia City High School IPS class, 95 S. R St., Virginia City, NV 89440.