NBC News LA: Former Marine to Give Back With Cross-Country Bike Trip

December 30th, 2011

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Olga Spilewsky | NBC News Los Angeles | NBCLosAngeles.com | December 30, 2011

Rick Hermelin is a marathon runner and a former U.S. Marine. The 70-year-old plans to give back to his fellow servicemen and women by trekking coast-to-coast on his very unique bicycle.

Hermelin has accomplished athletic feats many people half his age wouldn't even consider.

"I just completed my 100th half-marathon in June," Hermelin said confidently. "That's after completing 100 marathons and 100 10k's."

He said that one day when he was working out at his gym on an elliptical machine, he saw a runner on TV completing a cross-country trek and he thought he could do the same thing on a bicycle.

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He decided he wanted to help out his fellow servicemen and women by raising money for the Semper Fi Fund, which fulfills the needs of Marines and others returning home with war-related injuries.

"It's greater in many ways than other wars, not only because of the physical damage, but also, because of the great psychological damage," he said.

In a nod to the elliptical machine he was riding when he saw that item on TV, he is making the trip on an "ElliptiGo." It's a hybridized bicycle made by a company in San Diego.

"I call it riding-slash-running," Hermelin added.

Hermelin said will complete the 3,000-mile journey from Parris Island, South Carolina to San Diego in 100 days. And unlike others who have run or biked cross-country, he plans to do it all alone on his unique bike.

Why not have a full support team to help him out?

"I can't afford them. Nobody has volunteered," he said.

His fundraising goal is $10,000, but he would be happy to collect more than that. His journey starts in late March.

People can donate or follow Rick on the "Semper Fi Fund" website. And, if you want to learn more about his ride, just go to the "ElliptiGo" website.

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