Free Cycles Missoula and American Lung Association celebrates cycling and clean air


MISSOULA, Mont. - The following is a press release from the American Lung Association in Montana:

Bikes, summer and clean air: Three things worth celebrating.

And that's what Free Cycles and the American Lung Association in Montana will do on June 25 with a "Build a Bike for Clean Air Party."

The public is invited to come to Free Cycles, 732 S. First St. W., at 2 p.m. to build a child's bike for donation, or for a child to ride away.

The party is also a chance to welcome participants in the Lung Association's Big Ride Across America. This group of 11 cyclists is riding from Seattle to Washington, D.C., to raise money for lung research and awareness about the importance of Healthy Air.

A special focus this year is on new Clean Air Act rules that will clean up vehicle emissions and make biking, walking and breathing healthier and more enjoyable for us all.

"This is a great tie-in with Free Cycles, since one of the main reasons we started in 1996 was to help reduce air pollution in the Missoula Valley by getting more people on bikes and out of cars," said Bob Giordano, executive director of the Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation, which operates Free Cycles.

"We want to welcome the Big Rider to Montana and thank them for their work while having some fun and building some new bikes for Missoula kids," he said.

The party will include a brief welcome presentation and treats from bike vendors, including Missoula's Le Petit Outre Bakery and Black Coffee Roasting Company.

About the Big Ride

The  Big Ride cyclists will travel through Montana between June 23 and July 2. A schedule is provided below.

"Due to the size of our state, the riders spend more time here than in any other part of the country," said Kim Davitt, initiatives manager for the American Lung Association in Montana. "It's a pleasure to host them here and we appreciate the enormous commitment they're making to emphasize the importance of lung health and clean air."

Summertime, and the pastime of biking, provides a good opportunity to talk about the importance of new Clean Air Act protections that will reduce sulfur in gasoline from today's level of 30 parts per million to 10 parts per million. Since emissions control technology operates more efficiently with low-sulfur gasoline, this standard will clean up emissions from existing vehicles. The pollution reduction is equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road, Davitt said.

"Nationally, the standard will prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks and 400 premature deaths each year," she added. "We'll see a health care savings of $10.8 billion by 2030."

"In Montana, that means cleaner air in all our communities and less pollution in the air during winter air inversions," Davitt said. Poor air quality during the winter is a big problem in Western Montana's valley communities, such as Missoula, Butte and Helena, due to cold-air inversions.

From start to finish, the Big Ride lasts 48 days and stretches 3,300 miles across 12 states, plus the District of Columbia. Each rider raises a minimum of $6,500 via donations and pledges, and all have a deep commitment to the reasons for the ride.

Participants this year include Tim Landwerlen, 30, of Yucca Valley, Calif., a U.S. Marine who did active duty in Fallujah, Iraq, training Iraqi police to recruit and screen trainees for the Iraqi Police Academy.

Before being deployed to Iraq, Tim did embassy security duty in Tunis, Tunisia, and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he met his wife, Milena.

The couple's youngest son, Matheus, was born prematurely with under-developed, fluid-filled lungs. Matheus spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit during his first month of life, but has been healthy  since.

"For a while, Milena and I had to give him albuterol from a nebulizer to help with his breathing," said Tim. "But we haven't had to do that in a long time, so he's doing great! Matheus is the reason I am doing this ride. I thought my little man wasn't going to make it the first few days, and any research that can prevent someone from having to go through what my family went through is great."

Other riders include Martha McCauley, 52, from Custer, Wash., who is riding in honor of her dad, who died from emphysema, and Jeff Sloan, 56, of Cumberland, Maine, who said: "I ride as an advocate for the clean air that we must protect on the only planet we have to live on."

Cara Hall, 23, of Buffalo, N.Y., is also on the ride. She just finished her first year of medical school at the University of Rochester. "I'm doing this ride to fill my last free summer with a physical and mental challenge of endurance," she said. "And to see the country in a very unique way, to meet amazing athletes, and to conduct research on pulmonary function along the way."

Big Ride Montana Schedule 2013

Riders will be in:
•    Thompson Falls June 23-24
•    Missoula June 24-26 (rest day June 25)
•    Avon June 26-27
•    Townsend June 27-28
•    Harlowton June 28-29
•    Billings June 29-July 1 (rest day June 30)
•    Hardin July 1-2

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