‘Tour de Moose’ rider visits

Published 8:26 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

Douglas Warabak rolled up to Moose Lodge No. 141 on Turlington Road shortly before 5 p.m. Friday, just beating the sunset.

The former postal service worker had left Moose Lodge No. 757 in Williamsburg about eight hours earlier on his bicycle. On his “Going Coastal” tour, which he is also calling “Tour de Moose,” Warabak is cycling from Pennsylvania to Florida to raise money for the Moose organization’s senior retirement facility in Orange Park, Fla., where he’ll make a stop near the end of his journey.

Douglas Warabak, center, arrives at the Suffolk Moose Lodge No. 141 on Friday evening. He is flanked by lodge administrator Jesse Byrum, left, and senior regent Pat McGinley.

Warabak has been a cycling enthusiast for several years. In February, he rode across Florida from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico in three days.

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That trip gave him the idea to try a perpendicular journey — from his home in Pennsylvania, where he is a member of Moose Lodge No. 1207 in West Pittston, to Florida.

“I’ve done marathons, triathlons, duathlons, and I’m just taking it up to the next level,” he said.

When talking about the trip with members of his lodge, one suggested he make the trip a fundraiser for Moosehaven, the retirement community in Florida for Moose members.

Warabak, a member of the Adventure Cycling Association, used that organization’s online resources to plan his route, which keeps him on secondary roads where cycling is allowed and puts him on dedicated bike paths wherever possible.

Then he pinpointed Moose lodges along the way, and he has relied on their hospitality for shower facilities, recharging his phone’s batteries and a place to pitch his tent.

“The lodges have been really, really nice to me,” he said Friday after arriving in Suffolk. “They’ve been so gracious.”

The elements and other factors haven’t been so hospitable. He rode against the wind all day Friday, he said. He’s had six flat tires — including one in Suffolk before arriving at the Turlington Road lodge — and a broken spoke. He’s been chased by three dogs and has ridden in the rain. His longest journey in one day was 79 miles — about 12 hours of riding, including three hours of darkness.

“I had to make my next stop that I had accommodations,” he said.

He estimates he’s raised about $800 or $900 so far, not including roughly $300 that the Suffolk lodge collected.

“I admire this guy for what he’s doing,” said Jesse Byrum, administrator of Lodge No. 141. “I wouldn’t want to do it.”

Warabak will be gone during the holidays. That wasn’t the original plan, but his start was delayed and some legs of the trip have taken longer than expected. He hopes to make it to his destination by Jan. 6 and collect about $1,300 by then — a dollar per mile.

“It’s not about me; it’s about Moosehaven,” he said. “Someday, maybe I’ll be at Moosehaven.”