SIDNEY — With his bicycle waiting on him in California, Darryl Cloud, of Sidney, will be leaving from the Dayton International Airport Wednesday, Aug. 12, to begin a journey across the United States.
A U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, Cloud will begin his Boot Camp to Boot Camp trip Saturday, Aug. 15, when he departs from the Marine Boot Camp in San Diego, California. After a journey of approximately 2,460 miles, he will arrive at the other Marine Boot Camp in Parris Island, South Carolina. The trip is expected to take 45 to 55 days.
“I’m a member of the Semper Fi Fund,” said Cloud. “I’m what they call a community athlete. There are thousands of members.”
As a member of the Semper Fi Fund, Cloud has participated in the U.S. Marine Corp Marathon three times.
“It is so cool running through he streets of Washington, D.C.,” he said. “They have a cap, I believe of 40,000 runners for the race. I was raising money when I ran the marathons and I’d raise just as much as I could each year.”
Cloud said he has been running for 10 years and enjoys his time on the road.
“But I wanted to do something different other than going out every Saturday and running 10 miles,” he said.
And that something different came about unexpectedly. Cloud is the national sales manger of Concrete Sealants in Tipp City. One day, his boss’s wife was in the office and she was talking about a friend who had just retired and had ridden his bike coast to coast.
“I had done some triathlons and had been re-introduced to cycling,” said Cloud. “When I heard her talking about the coast to coast, I knew this was the something different I was looking for. About 18 months ago I started thinking about it. Then for the last 16 to 17 months, I’ve been planning for it.”
His goal for the trip is to raise $90,000, which will be used to purchase six “Action Trackchairs” or “Action Trackstanders” for disabled veterans. Each unit costs $15,000. So far, Cloud has raised more than $36,000. He has also received pledges for the number of miles he rides during the journey.
“These action trackchairs are like an off-the-road vehicle,” said cloud. “They can go on the beach and off the road. They will allow a veteran, who lost his legs, to participate in family activities and live a normal life.”
Cloud said when he started thinking about going coast to coast, he explored different ideas, such as gate to gate, until he came up with the Boot Camp to Boot Camp route.
Because of his job, Cloud has traveled out West and is familiar with the terrain and decided to start his journey from San Diego and he’s been training each day for his journey.
“I’ve been riding about 100 miles a weekend,” said Cloud. “I’ll do 70 on Saturday and then 30, 35 or 40 miles on Sunday. After work each day, I’ll do 10 to 20 miles.
“I’ve ridden in all types of weather,” he said. “But we haven’t had any extreme heat this summer, it’s all been mild temperatures.
“I wanted to get the deserts and big mountains out of the way while I’m physically fresh,” said Cloud.
Cloud said his legs are ready for all the peddling he will be doing. The hard part, he said, will be sitting in the bicycle saddle for hours on end.
“I plan to get up early in the morning and have my day completed by noon or 1 p.m. before the heat of the day hits,” said Cloud.
When mapping out his journey, Cloud said there were a number of bicycle routes to choose from.
“I used Google Map and also researched blogs of people who had already done the trip,” said Cloud. “I drew on the experiences of those who went before me.”
Google Map, he said, camp plot out bicycle friendly routes for anyone interested in traveling by bicycle.
Although he’s riding from boot camp to boot camp, the Marines Corp is not a sponsor of the ride. This is an independent venture through the Semper Fi Fund.
“I thought I’d show up at the main gate (in San Diego), snap and picture and go,” said Cloud.
Those plans were changed by other people.
“There will be a group from Semper Fi Fund in San Diego to see me off,” said Cloud. “An officer I served with in Vietnam will also be there. We served 20 feet of each other for 8 months in Vietnam and got to know each other when we came home.”
The ride is dedicated to U.S. Marine Maj. Lawrence “Larry” Helberg of southeastern Ohio. He never made it home from Vietnam and is still considered Missing in Action.
“His daughter will be in San Diego to see me off,” said Cloud. “He went missing on Jan. 24, 1966. I never realized what their families when through. He was 28 years old and had four children. Some of them never knew him.
“I’ve dealt with families who lost family members, but they had closure with a funeral,” he said. “They never had that.”
Cloud will be traveling from Boot Camp to Boot Camp by himself.
“I’ll be totally self-contained on my bicycle,” said Cloud. “I’ll be carrying five bags with me, which include all my camping gear, breakfast for 10 days, three changes of clothes and hygiene items. I can carry 4 gallons of water on the bicycle. I also have a first aid kit and extra parts for the bicycle and tools to repair it if needed.”
He has sent packages to friends and customers along the route with food and other items to restock his supplies along the journey. They will meet him during the trip and bring the packages he sent them.
“Ninety percent of the time I’ll be camping out,” said Cloud. “I plan to spend a few nights at a hotel. But mostly I’ll be staying at KOA’s along the way. I don’t want to wing it on the side of the road.”
He will also be carrying a stove to cook over and five to six emergency meals “just in case he breaks down.”
Cloud said he plans to go in 40 mile increments each day. If he feels like doing more in the afternoon, he’ll have that option also.
“A couple of days, I’ll have 75 to 100 miles to cover,” said Cloud. “There’s nothing in those stretch of spaces so I’m prepared for that.”
Most of his route will be in the “rural” areas of the states.
“There’s a few places where I’ll be riding on the interstate,” said Cloud. “California and Arizona allows for that. There’s just a short segment where I’ll be on the interstate and the shoulder of the road is wider to allow for bicycles.”
“The owners of the company are very supportive of me,” said Cloud. “So is my church and this community.”
Cloud will be using a bicycle specific GPS which will allow his wife, Julie, keep track of his journey via her iPhone as she stays at home in Sidney.
“She was apprehensive at first about me doing the trip,” said Cloud. “After she saw everything come together, she changed her mind.”
Helberg and Cloud’s friend from California were in the same squadron in Vietnam. They launched on the same mission as wingmen.
“He (Cloud’s friend) came home and the other two didn’t,” he said. “When Julie learned this, she told me I was meant to be on this trip.
“She’ll be my home-base support,” said Cloud. “If there are road closed, I can call her for a route around it. If there’s a storm, she can find me a hotel.”
Cloud plans to blog during his journey as most campsites have internet access.
“I have it planned in my head,” said Cloud. “I’ll get my campsite set up and then go to the community room and get online.”
He also plans to explore the area where he is camping overnight.
Cloud’s blog can be followed at http://bootcamptobootcamp.blogspot.com/. He is also on Facebook with his personal account, Darryl Cloud.
Donations via a credit card for fundraiser can be made at https://fundraising.semperfifund.org/fundraise?fcid=399234. Donations can also be sent to Cloud and should be made out to “Semper Fi Fund.” His address is 735 Stratford Drive, Sidney OH 45365.
The Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
Updates on Cloud’s trip will be published in the Sidney Daily News.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.