BELGRADE — The two bicycles for the “Cycle for Addiction Awareness” are carefully stored inside the home of Karen and Stephen Hardy along with a new (child-size) trailer that — hopefully — will hold camping supplies for a week on the road and fliers to advertise their mission.
The couple, married a dozen years, plans to fund the seven-day, 400-plus mile ride themselves — which they estimate at about $1,000 — while amassing donations for the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery in Augusta.
They hope to raise $2,500 to be used to support the agency’s purchase of naloxone, an antidote used for opiate overdoses, as well as education and training in the use of the drug.
Karen Hardy said naloxone, more familiar under the trademarked name Narcan, saved the life of her son who lives in New York and who is struggling with addiction recovery.
“A few months ago, he was clinically dead,” she said. Rescuers used naloxone to revive him.
Now the Hardys plan to celebrate his 26th birthday with him on Tuesday. “He’s still here and he’s still working on (recovery),” Karen Hardy said.
While Karen Hardy is a veteran distance cyclist — she did 464 miles about five years ago to raise money for Educate Malawi Inc., a nonprofit the couple formerly ran to provide teaching supplies and scholarships in that southeastern African country, this is the first time her husband will pedal alongside her.
“I’ve always been the car support,” Hardy said. Now, he’ll be pulling that bicycle trailer behind his bike.
To build up endurance, they rode their bicycles to Millinocket recently, and they have done 100-mile rides before
“We’re not very fast,” Stephen Hardy said. “We’re slow and steady.” They anticipate traveling 10 to12 miles per hour pulling the trailer with food, clothes and camping gear, and having other equipment in saddlebags on Karen Hardy’s bicycle. Her bike carries a tracker system, “which I love,” she said. “It tracks miles, distance and time, it’s kind of fun.”
They’re packing very little food. “A lot of the route is on (U.S.) Route 1, so we’re not concerned about having a lot of food on board,” Karen Hardy said.
The trailer is brand new and super-light, and a trial run down Route 27 last week showed Stephen Hardy’s bike — a hybrid between a road bike and mountain bike — could pull it easily. Karen Hardy rides a road bike with thinner tires.
They have some stand-by backups with vehicles, including daughter Shannon Massey, who lives next door, should they run into problems.
Right now, the Hardys are considering what type of sign to attach to the trailer so people know the trek is for addiction awareness. “My goal is every day to pass out a number of fliers,” Hardy said.
The Hardys’ recent long-distance ride through some sparsely populated areas led them to scale back their initial goal of 14 days and 700 miles around the state. Now, they’re planning to stick close to the main coastal artery, and hoping to accomplish about 400 miles ride in seven days.
Karen Hardy said the route change came after they wondered, “Who are we going to meet and who are we going to spread the word to about addiction awareness?”
The departure date is now Sept. 6 — a time they fixed after consulting the weather forecast in the Farmer’s Almanac, a usual practice for their longer bike treks. “It was surprisingly accurate,” Stephen Hardy said.
In literature about their venture, Hardy cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control which show that in Maine, one person dies each day from a drug overdose.
In 2016, according to a report released in February by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the state lost a record 378 people to overdoses, mostly caused by opioid drugs, particularly fentanyl and heroin. Other figures show that 52,000 people nationally died from overdoses in 2015.
The Hardys are raising money through the Facebook page, Cycle for Addiction Awareness, and a GofundMe page. They invite people to share their stories and make donations. Supporters can remain anonymous if they like.
“We’re speaking about it on behalf of the many that aren’t comfortable talking about it,” Karen Hardy said. “I know it’s hard to talk about.”
Fellow bicyclists are invited to go along on all or part of the ride as well.
Other fundraising efforts will be held until their departure, with most events held at the Wellness Center they run, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness LLC, located in Belgrade.
Stephen Hardy is self-employed in the home improvement business. He is also a Reiki Master. Karen Hardy, who holds a masters of education in counseling psychology, works in the field of mental health counseling and addiction treatment, including treatment for people affected by another person’s addictive behaviors.
She said she is about to become a board member of the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery. She became acquainted with the group when she took SMART Recovery training from Darren Ripley. Ripley is coordinator for the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery, a statewide coalition that “organizes people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and recovery allies into a unified recovery presence within Maine,” according to its website.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors Recovery Month each September “to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.”
Betty Adams — 621-5631