In his father's memory Man rides cross country for melanoma

[From the Times-Leader of Martins Ferry, Ohio.]



T-L Lifestyles Editor

WHILE MANY sons and daughters will be traveling across town or even across a state or two to pay tribute to their fathers today, one Adena native has a slightly longer trip in mind.

Kevin Madzia, Adena native and Pittsburgh resident, will be honoring his father, the late George Madzia, with a cross country bike trip to help raise money and awareness about melanoma. The elder Madzia died at the age of 62 from melanoma which spread to his organs in November 2002.

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Seattle-Skykomish, WA

A group of us got started promptly, a little after 6:00am. We left the University via the Burke-Gillman Trail, which we followed for a few miles to the Wallingford neighborhood. After breakfast at a local church, we went down to Gasworks Park to dip our rear wheels into Puget Sound for the official start of our journey.

We turned back up the trail and followed it all the way to Woodinville. From there, local roads led us to Duvall, then eventually to Sultan and Gold Bar on the Stevens Pass Highway. In Duvall, I caught up to Peter Culley from Pittsburgh, and Ryan, both Cycle America staff members. The three of us hammered pretty hard for about 25 miles to the lunch stop outside of Gold Bar.

The remaining 25 miles of the ride was pretty much a straight shot up the Stevens Pass Highway to the town of Skykomish. Some climbing was involved, but nothing too harsh yet. Scenic highlights were vistas of some lower Cascade peaks, cold rushing mountain streams, and last-chance espresso stands.

I got to the end of the ride around 1:05pm; total mileage for the day was 76.5, average speed was 16, and maximum speed was 38. I got cleaned up with a cold shower at the Skykomish High School. Later in the afternoon, Matt from Australia and I took a ride in the van with a few staffers (Kira, Paul, Jeremy, Tauna, and Mary) to the edge of town to take a refreshing dip in the Skykomish River. It was ice cold! I just waded a bit, but everyone else took the full plunge!

After dinner (good–lasagna) and the daily Tour Talk, we got to hear everyone’s stories as we all introduced ourselves and told about what led us to be on the tour.

Later, a large group of us went to the Whistling Post Tavern and knocked back a few pitchers of Alaskan Amber Ale and Red Hook ESB.

Fremont Fair and Tour Orientation

I got out of bed around 8:00am today and had the usual breakfast once again. I did a load of laundry, the stuff I had used since I got to Seattle. I re-packed the bags, and loaded them and the bike into Phil’s Ford Explorer again. We headed out a little after noon.

Today’s fun involved heading back into the city for the Fremont Fair, also known as the Summer Soltice Festival, in the neighborhood of Fremont. This was a street fair with the usual array of food, art, and craft vendors. We saw a restored statue of Lenin, plus lots of barely-dressed participants from the Soltice Parade.

We got lunch at an Indian food stand called Chutney’s, which was very good. We ducked into Dad Watson’s brew pub for a quick one; Phil and I both had a nitrogenated Dry Irish Stout, and Tracy got a Terminator Stout.

The Fremont area is pretty close to the University District; Phil and Tracy got me to the UW campus around 4:00pm, and we said our good-byes. I will miss them; they took good care of me over the past few days, and I had a really good visit.

Our tour check-in and accomodations for the night were at a fairly decent dormitory call McMahon Hall. My first job in the room was to unpack my bike and get it put back together, which went off without any hitches. By then it was time for dinner, so I hooked up with some of the other riders and tour staff to walk and find Roundtable Pizza, which was a few blocks from campus.

Back at McMahon after dinner, we assembled for our first Tour Talk, which is where the staff briefs us on details and highlights for the next day’s ride. At this first gathering, the staff also introduced themselves, and gave us a general breakdown of a typical day on the tour.

A dozen or so of us gathered on the patio and compared stories of past rides and our thoughts on the upcoming ride. Once again, the view of Mt. Rainier just over our shoulders was spectacular.

Redmond, WA

Slept until 10:00am today. After another good yogurt and granola breakfast, we headed over to hang out at the Redmond Town Center. We walked their dog Hasta around the bike trail nearby, then I got some ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery. I checked out the local REI store and picked up some chamois cream for the bike trip. Then, we had some lunch at a deli.

On the way back home, we stopped to take a walk in the dog area of Marymoor Park, and checked out the velodrome and the rock climbing wall.

We stopped at Larry’s Market to get some beer and supplies for dinner, which was at our friends Bill and Kim’s house in West Seattle. I met their year-old son Quinn for the first time. We enjoyed dinner on their deck with a view of the sunset over Puget Sound; dinner was grilled pork (courtesy of Bill), mashed potatoes (courtesy of Kim), green beans, and cobbler for dessert (both courtesy of Tracy).

Seattle, WA

Got out of bed at 8:00am, relatively early considering the activities of the previous two days. Had some granola and yogurt, and a banana for breakfast.

This afternoon, Phil, Tracy, and I spent the afternoon as Seattle tourists, having a walking lunch through the many stands of the Seattle Public Market. I had a hombow (a soft, fresh bun filled with bbq’d pork, a requirement every time I visit Seattle), a chili dog, clam chowder, a peach, and some bubble tea.

Back and Phil and Tracy’s, I hit the couch and finally got caught up on sleep for a couple of hours. Actually, it ended up being just enough time to be hungry again for dinner. The three of us hit the nearby Celtic Bayou, an Irish-style brewpub featuring cajun dinner entrees. The beers I tried were a nitrogenated pale ale, and an English-style bitter. Later, we retired to the home theater once again and watched “Desperado.”

Pittsburgh, PA to Seattle, WA

I got about two hours of sleep the night before my flight, after working on three different schemes for packing all of my gear. Check-in and the flight itself was uneventful, and we landed in Seattle right on schedule at 11:30. My friend Phil was already waiting to pick me up at the baggage claim area. I had a few moments of panic when only one of my bags showed up. About fifteen minutes after the carousel had shut down and most of the other passengers had cleared out, my other bag, plus the bike box, appeared nearby in the odd-size baggage area.

The weather in Seattle was beautiful–clear, sunny, and warm. The view of Mt. Rainier to the south was spectacular, as well as that of Mt. Baker to the north, and the Olympic range to the west. My family and I were in Washington state on a family trip back in 1992, an we enjoyed hiking around the lower part of Mt. Rainier. One month before my father’s death, when we first learned that the melanoma had spread to his liver, one of the first things he said was that he had hoped to visit Mt. Rainier again some day. I have decided that one of my next adventures is going to be to climb to the summit.

After I got settled in at Phil’s house, I decided to join him in his usual Wednesday afternoon workout at the local health club. We did 30 minutes on the Stairmasters, then some lifting.

That evening, we were joined at Phil and Tracy’s house for dinner by a few more of their friends. We followed dinner with a viewing of “Kill Bill Vol I” on DVD. Amazingly, I stayed awake through all of this until turning in for bed around 3:30am.

Cyclist rides to raise funds for melanoma research

The following article about the Coast-to-Coast bicycle tour appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

By Virginia Linn, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Mount Washington software developer is preparing for the ride of his life in memory of his father, who died of skin cancer.

Kevin Madzia, 39, is embarking on a 4,200 mile cross-country bike trip — from Everett, Wash. on June 20 to Gloucester, Mass., on Aug. 21 — to raise money for the Melanoma Research Foundation to battle the disease that took his father’s life.

George Madzia, 62, who operated a service station and still lived in Kevin’s hometown of Adena, Ohio, died in November 2002 after several recurrences of the aggressive cancer.

Although the younger Madzia has participated five times in the MS 150-miler from Cranberry to Lake Erie in Conneaut, Ohio, he’s never ridden across the country.

The trek is sponsored by Cycle America and will include 40 to 50 participants each riding for their own charity. The group plans to cover 75 miles a day and have one rest day a week. He’s training 200 miles a week on his Mongoose Bosberg road racing bike.

Madzia is hoping to raise $10,000 for the charity. Anyone wishing to donate can send checks to The Melanoma Research Foundation, 24 Old Georgetown Road, Princeton, N.J. 08540. Write “Miles for Melanoma — Kevin Madzia” in the subject line.

You can read more about Madzia and his trip at

Photo by Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

First published on June 1, 2004 at 12:00 am