Mark Bottom will be getting to know his Trek road bike a lot better in the coming weeks as he trains for the 1,098-mile Pedal for Pat in October, a fundraiser for legendary Coach Pat Summitt’s foundation that supports Alzheimer’s research and education. Local residents will have the chance to support his efforts. (Johnson Publications photo)
Imperial man preparing to ‘Pedal for Pat’
Mark Bottom of Imperial has a huge task ahead of him.
But it’s one he was drawn to because there were so many connections to his personal life. It’s also a way to give back.
This October, the teacher and coach at Chase County Schools (CCS) will be joining up to 11 other cyclists in a fundraiser benefitting The Pat Summitt Foundation and its mission to support research and education on Alzheimer’s disease.
The 1,098 trek on bicycle over 12 days is scheduled Oct. 17-28, starting in Knoxville, Tenn. and ending in Key West, Fla.
The 1,098-mile trip matches Summitt’s 1,098 wins as legendary coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team.
The team of riders hopes to average about 100 miles a day, with stops along the way for visits to care centers and local events at their overnight stays.
Last month, while camping at the Air Force Academy campgrounds, Bottom and his wife Renae met up with a fellow camper there, Pamela Bettis-Tanner.
He noticed the “Pedal for Pat” sign in her campground. She noticed he was on his bike.
Bettis-Tanner was already signed up as one of seven Pedal for Pat riders. After learning more about it, along with some encouragement from Bettis-Tanner to consider it, Bottom came home and he and Renae started researching more on the event.
It didn’t take him long to put the Pedal for Pat on his list.
“I liked the connection of that event to me. It brings a lot together for me,” he said.
He’s read Coach Summitt’s books, he bikes a lot of miles each year, he’s involved with girls’ basketball coaching like Summitt was and it provides a way to give back, he said.
While he doesn’t have any direct connection to Alzheimer’s in his family, he noted Summitt was close to his age now when she contracted the disease. After a five-year battle, Summitt died in June 2016.
He said he is thankful that he is healthy and able to take on a long ride like the Pedal for Pat will be.
Call it a sign or not, but the dates for the Pedal for Pat also will coincide with fall break at CCS. And, as head coach of the Lady Longhorn basketball team, it’s also before basketball season starts.
Before he made any commitments to the event, Bottom first talked with School Supt. Joey Lefdal about some time off to participate.
“He’s been very supportive,” Bottom said.
Bottom normally bikes 100-125 miles a week, but will be increasing that distance gradually in anticipation of the Pedal for Pat ride. His goal is to build up to 450-500 miles a week before it starts.
Bottom has been cycling for more than 30 years, and has completed about 50 triathlons of varying distances.
He’s never done the full triathlon that incorporates two miles of swimming, 100 miles of biking and a full marathon (26.2 miles), but hopes his Pedal for Pat experience will lead to it.
Bicycle safety class this
Saturday; fundraising ahead
Not only has Bottom committed to the 1,098-mile ride, he also pledged to raise $10,000 as one of the Summitt Cyclists.
All funds raised by the cyclists will go to The Pat Summitt Foundation.
To kick off his effort and as a way to give back to the community for its support, Bottom is organizing a free bicycle safety class for this Saturday, Aug. 12, at the school playground, with two separate sessions depending on age.
Youths age four to seven will meet from 8 to 8:50 a.m. Youngsters age eight to 11 will have the class from 9 to 10 a.m. Participants should bring their bicycle and a helmet.
One of Bottom’s plans to help raise funds for his $10,000 goal will be a youth bicycle raffle. He’s now working on securing a bicycle for that fundraiser.
Supporters can also donate directly online at patsummitt.org. Once there, select “Join Pat’s Team/Pedal for Pat” and click on “Donate.” For funds to go directly to Bottom’s effort, people must check that they are sponsoring a rider and also select “Mark Bottom.”
People can also donate by check, payable to Pedal for Pat LLC, and mailed to Mark Bottom, 346 East 12th St., Imperial, Neb. 69033