Redmond’s Whidby couple to embark on Big Ride Pacific Coast

Doug and Moira Whidby of Redmond’s Rose Hill neighborhood will embark on a 15-day, 960-mile bike ride from Seattle to San Francisco on Sept. 13.

Doug and Moira Whidby of Redmond’s Rose Hill neighborhood will embark on a 15-day, 960-mile bike ride from Seattle to San Francisco on Sept. 13.

The ride should be “a piece of cake” — make that anniversary cake — for the Whidbys. They met 10 years ago on a 3,000-mile bike ride from Seattle to Washington, D.C. and will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary on Sept. 25, probably somewhere near Fort Bragg, Calif.

Now, just as 10 years ago, they’re riding to raise money for the American Lung Association. Proceeds from the “Big Ride Pacific Coast” will fund ways to prevent and cure diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and pulmonary fibrosis and teach children with asthma how to manage their symptoms.

The couple described how the Big Ride brought them together. Doug, a vice-president at Convergint Technologies in Renton, was from the Northwest. Moira, who is now a Microsoft marketing consultant for the Windows Home Server Team, had been working in New York. She got sick during the first Big Ride and was hospitalized in South Dakota. Doug’s teammate also got sick at that time and introduced them.

According to Moira, sparks didn’t fly right away.

“Nothing started on the ride, but we rode at the same pace and kept in touch through the Internet afterward,” she said.

Another compatibility was that Moira is asthmatic and Doug went on the ride because his daughter had asthma.

“There was no pretense in the way we met,” Moira continued. “We didn’t expect to see each other again after the ride.”

However, their friendship deepened after “a great lunch in Frostburg, Maryland — a teeny town,” she reminisced. “This will be our first Big Ride since that one,” she added, beaming.

And how sweet is this? They’ll be riding a custom-made tandem bike that was a bridal gift from their friends. Instead of registering for china or stemware, they registered for parts of the bike.

“We’d both been married before and had everything we needed,” Moira explained.

Her five-year-old nephews bought the spokes; others bought the saddles and so on.

The Whidbys didn’t start training for this Big Ride until July 4. They thought they were going to attend a family wedding this month but sadly, the bride-to-be was killed in a car accident. They will ride in her memory and in honor of other loved ones who died of lung disease.

On an average day, they’ll ride about 80 miles and are hoping for good weather.

“We’re excited and scared all at the same time. But that’s good because it means we’re being realistic,” said Moira.

To boost riders’ confidence, said Doug, “Each day, there’s a ride map that tells you about elevation details, route markers, et cetera. It’s helpful to gauge your day ahead — how to pace yourself, fuel yourself and manage your energy level.”

And former Big Riders will travel with the group, providing meals, bike maintenance and access to showers and washing facilities.

We asked the Whidbys if there were any special landmarks that they looked forward to seeing along the way.

“I’m most interested in being able to duplicate the same kind of ride as 10 years ago, this time together,” Doug replied. “It’s more about that than what we see along the way. We love cycling — it’s the whole ride experience from start to finish. It’s a very different experience, between being in a car with the windows rolled up and the stereo on.”

When you’re on a bike, “you’ve got the wind, the sights, the sounds, the smells. There’s nothing like it,” he said. “And everyone on the ride has a common bond, a link to lung disease.”

The Whidbys have raised around $3,000 toward helping people breathe easier.