Ambitious biker pedals across America

Staff photo by Tammy Malgesini Phil Nagle applies sunscreen, as his father, Ralph, looks on, Friday morning in Pendleton.

Phil Nagle breezed through Pendleton Friday morning as he attempts to bicycle through the lower 48 states in 48 days.

However, the 23-year-old Ohio man said he'll need some help from Mother Nature in his effort to set a Guinness World Record.

"It's going to be a long shot. If we get some strong winds, it's possible," he said.

Nagle set out from Ohio on July 20. His father, Ralph, and fellow University of Cincinnati graduates, Andrew O'Dom and Mehrtash Mostofi, make up the support team while traveling in a recreational vehicle. Nagle also hopes to raise $48,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He chose the organization in memory of his uncle, Alvin Nagle, who died from acute leukemia as a teenager.

Ralph Nagle said although they never met, his son and brother share many of the same physical and personality traits.

While riding, Nagle drinks at least two gallons of water a day and is constantly eating.

"We hand him snacks out the window - granola bars and cookies," O'Dom said.

With more than 5,700 miles ridden so far, the highs have been marked by more than mountain passes.

Nearly everywhere the group stops, people share their stories of survival.

In Vermont, a woman approached Ralph Nagle, who was stopped at a red light.

"She came up to the window and handed me some money. She said, 'I'm a cancer survivor.'"

The elder Nagle also recalled a waitress "full of life and smiles," sharing her story.

"That's been the best part of the trip," he said.

Initially, another one of Nagle's friends was supposed to drive the command vehicle, however, when he had to bail, Ralph Nagle readily climbed aboard.

"He put so much work into it, I couldn't say no to him," Ralph said.

After his wife, Regina, encouraged him, Nagle was prepared to lose his job to accompany his son. He was pleasantly surprised by his boss's support.

Nagle said he thinks about his uncle or reflects on e-mails he's received from cancer survivors if he starts to get down.

"That really helps me keep going," he said.

Other than being chased by dogs in Tennessee and a couple of grueling mountain passes topping 10,000 feet, Nagle remains upbeat.

"I knew it was a lofty goal, but I wanted to aim high," he said.

To track Nagle's progress, go to www.go48in48.com.

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