Dayton man plans trek across country on bike

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 3, 2014 

DAYTON -- As a toddler, Dave MacNall's legs were paralyzed by polio. But for the past 14 months, he's been zipping around Dayton on his 27-speed, hand-powered bike.

It cost $7,000, something he couldn't afford on his meager Social Security check. But Walla Walla Home Medical stepped up for a donation.

"I've already put 350 miles on it," he said. "When I first began riding, I weighed 207 pounds. I went down to 180 pounds, then gained six pounds, all muscle. I feel great when I'm out riding."

His ambition is to bike to Albany, N.Y. for charity. The idea of crossing the country took root after he heard about Eric Shadle, a 56-year-old Richland pastor, doing it to raise awareness and money to buy diapers for low-income families.

MacNall wants to raise money for Dayton's food bank and Project Timothy, a Christian service center offering housing and financial assistance to residents of Dayton, Starbuck and Waitsburg.

"My legs don't work but my arms do, and my doctor thinks I can do it," MacNall, 63, said.

He plans to set off on his journey in May 2015.

He has his route planned out. Dayton to Missoula to Chicago and on to Albany, then he'll head for the New York/Connecticut border to visit his sister for a month and rest before biking back home.

On the flat, MacNall can reach speeds of 30 and 40 mph but hills slow him down to about 5 mph, he said.

"The Rockies, at least going uphill, are going to be a challenge," he said.

In the meantime, he's riding twice a day -- weather permitting -- about an hour each time.

He's traveled as far as Waitsburg and Dixie and would like to visit Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities. But MacNall can't carry enough water to go much farther than he has.

He'd like to find other bikers to ride with.

"It's lonely and kind of boring with just cows to talk to," he said.

MacNall doesn't ride in the snow and rarely in the rain. Bumps in the road can pose a problem. He sits just 4 inches off the ground.

MacNall is hoping the community will step up and offer him sponsorships to help pay for his food and motels plus that of the crew he'll need to accompany him.

"I can't do it alone. I need a team. If I had a flat, I'd be sitting there on the side of the road all by my lonesome," he said.

MacNall said some people think his dream is crazy.

"But I have faith; with God anything's possible," he said.

Anyone who wants to assist MacNall can contact him at 509-629-1156, or on Facebook.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513;

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