October 5, 2011

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Professor pedals round the clock for charity

By Tom Campbell

318 miles. A U.S. Air Force pilot in an F-22 Raptor can do it in 15 minutes. A jetliner can get there comfortably in 40 minutes. Anyone with a car and a full tank of gas can drive it in six hours.

Professor Mills

Scott Mills rides his mountain bike to work at Purdue’s Lilly Hall every day. But the three-mile round trip is easy compared with the 24-hour endurance ride he completed for the CASA fundraiser in August. (Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Scott Mills covered that distance — about the same as from the Purdue University campus to Nashville, Tenn. — in 24 hours on a bicycle.

Mills, an associate professor of animal science and a Purdue faculty member since 1984, rode farther than any other participant in the 2011 Tippecanoe County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Cycling Challenge in August. He rode 159 laps around the two-mile Subaru of Indiana Automotive test track just east of Lafayette.

The ride, held every two years, benefits the CASAs for Kids Fund in its efforts to enrich the lives of abused and neglected children in Tippecanoe County. The group provides summer sports and educational camps for them, furniture so they can move back home, bicycles and helmets, art classes and guitar lessons. The organization also covers costs of school extracurricular activities.

Mills, who has lived in the community for 28 years and has been a cyclist for almost that long, has known the organizer of the event for 25 years. “I do it to support them and their cause, and because I can bike,” he said. “I admire what they do with CASA.”

During the 24 hours, Mills estimated he was off the bike for about four hours to eat, rest and even sleep for a few minutes. The going was smooth, but he pedaled half of each lap directly into the wind.

“It was a windy day,” Mills said. “Just getting started was tough because I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. But I’ve found I can ride long-distance, and if I just don’t push myself too hard, I can go and go and not get too tired.” Mills was surprised that he was in the lead for overall distance as he approached the final stages of the ride.

“There were a lot stronger riders out there than me, but for some reason, they quit,” he said. “I guess they just slept longer than me.” Mills said he did not train a great deal for the ride.

“The last 3 to 4 years, I haven’t ridden that much,” he said. “I don’t think I had 500 miles on my bike coming into the ride.”

Mills rides a mountain bike daily to work, a round trip of three miles. For the CASA event, he rode a carbon fiber Kestral road bike.

Although Mills is a veteran of many endurance rides, the CASA event was the farthest he had ridden within 24 hours.

“I’ve done a number of these, and I tell myself when I stop having fun, that’s when I’ll quit,” he said.

That may not be anytime too soon. Despite having a sore tailbone from the ride, he was back on his bike the next day.

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