Patrick Tomlinson

Road Trip

Young man bikes 1,800 miles to raise money for hemophilia
Author: Beth Marshall

In each issue of HemAware, we “Take 5” with people in the bleeding disorders community and spotlight their accomplishments with just five questions. This month, HemAware met Patrick Tomlinson, a 20-year-old with mild hemophilia A. He biked 1,800 miles to raise money for the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan and Camp Bold Eagle, where he works as a lifeguard.

2010 Update on Patrick Tomlinson:

Tomlinson, of Marysville, Michigan, has been mulling over what challenge he can take on next to raise money for hemophilia. It would take a lot to top the 1,800-mile bike trip he took in May 2008 from Kansas City, Missouri, to Boston, Massachusetts. Tomlinson continues to ride his bike five to six days a week, from 20 to 70 miles each day. He has also participated in an organized “century,”—a 100-mile bike ride—as well as a few shorter races called criteriums and a couple of cyclo-cross races. Cyclo-cross races are similar to mountain biking but riders are faced with obstacles in which they have to dismount and carry their bike for a short time. Tomlinson adds that he always wears a helmet and proper biking attire. “I love the feeling of going fast under my own power and the competition that I encounter,” he says. “I have actually noticed improvement in how my joints, especially my hips and knees, feel.”

Original Article:

What inspired you to do a hemophilia awareness-raising bike ride?

I got the idea when one of my friends did a bike trip from Alaska to the Panama Canal. I wanted to go with him, but didn’t have the time then. Later, when I was at Camp Bold Eagle, I learned that the camp was hurting for money. I had been thinking of doing something for the bleeding disorders community, so I thought of doing a bike trip. Originally, I was going to ride from San Francisco to Boston, but there were some medical issues—it wasn’t going to work with me going over the Sierra Nevadas, so I started in Kansas City instead.

Why did you want to raise money for Camp Bold Eagle?

I’m a lifeguard there, and it’s a really beautiful place. All the people who work there are just awesome, and all the kids there deserve whatever can be done for them.

What did you do to stay healthy while on this long road trip?

I rode around 60 miles a day. In total, the trip was about 1,800 miles. It was only supposed to be 1,700, but I took quite a few detours because I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. If something looked cool, I just went for it.

I had to take my factor every day, but other than that, I just tried to make sure I was getting enough vitamin C and getting all the nutrition I needed. I also made sure that I stayed warm and tried to keep myself as dry as possible.

I had to take three or four days off for my knee, but it wasn’t really a big thing. I have a lot of trouble with my one knee, and it didn’t like the position my foot was in my pedal—the way I had it set—so it gave me trouble most of the time. But other than that, I didn’t have any major issues.

Did you succeed in raising awareness about people with bleeding disorders?

Just talking to people I met on the trip was probably the biggest way I got the word out. I tried to get businesses to donate money, and I think the Web site helped a lot.

Any advice for anyone who might want to undertake a similar journey?

Pack as light as possible. Take your time and enjoy it—it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chance to take a month off school or work again. 

If I could change anything, it would be to get somebody else to go with me. It wasn’t hard traveling alone, but it would have been easier with someone else. We could have covered a lot more ground because we could have split up the weight I was carrying—all the cooking supplies and the tent. And when there’s somebody else there, it’s easier to push yourself.