LA Daily News: At age 70, Rick Hermelin will cross country for injured Marines

December 29th, 2011

By Susan Abraham | Los Angeles Daily News | Dailynews.com | December 29, 2011

Rick Hermelin will start his cross-country ride at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island in South Carolina on March 23, the day he first reported for basic training in 1959.

Rick Hermelin served his country as a Marine, worked in the Southern California aerospace industry as an engineer, became a massage therapist, and has run in 100 marathons.

But Hermelin, who is 70, slender and tan, says he is still seeking that journey of a lifetime.

"The idea of doing coast-to-coast is something I wanted to do for many years," Hermelin said Thursday morning at the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area.

"I feel good. Nothing hurts, so why not?"

Since July, the Westlake Village resident has been preparing for a 100-day road trip from South Carolina to California, pedaling on an odd device called an ElliptiGO. The hybrid of a bike and elliptical machine will make him look like he is gliding down 3,000 miles of concrete.

For 100 days, he said, he'll ride through the southern United States, meeting people and raising awareness and money for the Semper Fi Fund, which assists injured U.S. Marines and their families.

Hermelin hopes to raise at least $10,000.

"I'm not doing it just for me," Hermelin said as he practiced on an ElliptiGO along the bike paths within the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area.

"This is far bigger than me."

He'll start at the U.S. Marine Recruit Depot on Parris Island on March 23 - the day that he first showed up for basic training in the Marine Corps in 1959.

He hopes to complete an average of 30 miles a day to reach the Marine Recruit Depot in San Diego by June.

"I think it's real neat," said Bryan Pate, who co-founded the Solana Beach-based company that developed ElliptiGO with Brent Teal.

"I'm a former Marine and I'm a big believer in the Semper Fi Fund," Pate said. "His trip is a meaningful way to tie all this in with a cross-country route."

Hermelin's trip is the first to be done solely on an ElliptiGO.

"It's a pretty audacious thing to try," Pate said.

Hermelin will have no support crew - only a backpack and some gear on his ElliptiGO.

"To do a self-supported cross-country trek on this running-like device seems much more of a challenge than riding, but easier to run," Pate said.

"The combination of his age and the weather and elements and being out every day, day in and day out, that's going to take its toll," Pate said. "But he's a Marine. He's got that mentality."

Hermelin said he was inspired to ride coast-to-coast by Dean Karnazes, an ultra- marathon runner who completed a coast-to-coast run in two months earlier this year.

Hermelin will be keeping track of his journey on a blog and through Facebook.

When he first told his family and friends, Hermelin said they reacted with some mixed emotions.

"They think I'm crazy," he said. "But they're also proud."

To donate to the Semper Fi Fund through Hermelin, go to http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=178860.

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