John Weaver ditched the idea of running 26.2 miles in favor of a marathon bike ride.
When injuries curtailed his running, he picked up cycling and discovered an alternative to his dream of doing the classic long-distance race.
“Now my knees won’t take the pounding,” he said. “And the equivalent for a biker is to do a century ride.”
On Saturday he’s finally pulling off the epic feat — with a little extra on the top.
Weaver, 53, and his friend Rick Gilbaugh, 56, are pedaling 105 miles across the region to raise money for Centre County Christian Academy. In the morning, the pair will start from Weaver’s Boalsburg house, hoping to finish by late afternoon at CCCA in Gilbaugh’s hometown of Bellefonte.
“It’ll be a great workout,” Gilbaugh said.
He and Weaver know each other through Calvary Baptist Church, between Centre Hall and Pleasant Gap. Weaver’s the church treasurer, Gilbaugh the pastor.
Last spring, Weaver suggested they tackle a century ride together. Gilbaugh had more running — including a marathon last year — than cycling under his belt, but he had biked in a few triathlons. He was game.
But before they could begin their individual training regimens, they had to pick an early fall day.
Saturdays were out because both work at Penn State football games — Gilbaugh as a volunteer at a CCCA food booth and Weaver as a stadium gate security guard. And Gilbaugh, naturally, was booked on Sundays.
So the optimal date fell on the Nittany Lions’ first off week. As both strengthened their lungs and legs, the adventure took a turn.
Someone planted a thought with Gilbaugh: As long as he was going to bike 100 miles, why not do a fundraiser? That made sense, and CCCA, a small, private, nondenominational school, came to mind.
A former faculty member, Gilbaugh sits on the school’s board. Both of his children went there, with his daughter now working as a school administrator.
Gilbaugh decided the school could use a mobile computer lab, a cart with laptops for projects. Through both flat and per-mile donations, he and Weaver have raised almost $3,000, about a third of the price tag for a lab.
They had a date and a goal. Now they needed a route.
“We kind of laughed,” Gilbaugh said. “Here we are in central Pennsylvania; we’re two older guys. Where can we ride where we’re not riding up and down mountains?”
Weaver, a vice president with Corvette America in Milroy, mapped out a plan.
They’ll head first to Pennsylvania Furnace, cut across to Warriors Mark and then head to Tyrone. From there, they’ll ride down Bald Eagle Valley to Mill Hall, take state Route 64 to Jacksonville Road and return to Bellefonte.
“I expect to be tired, but I expect to have a good day,” Weaver said. “I don’t think we’ll have any problems accomplishing it.”
But just in case, his wife, Jane Weaver, will drive a support car full of drinks, food and spare parts, meeting them periodically along the way.
Both men have done long rides in preparation. Gilbaugh notched 73 miles on Labor Day.
“I felt I had 27 more miles in me,” he said. “So I felt encouraged I could do this.”
Weaver finished 75, also optimistic about a day of rolling through the fall countryside.
“It’s going to be a reward,” he said, “for a lot of long hours put in this summer.”