Biking for a cause

Jose Luis Bermudez, 50, rides in the rain at the top of a steep hill in West Virginia in the 2015 Race Across America. Bermudez plans to raise $27,500 for Bryan-College Station’s Habitat For Humanity.

A Texas A&M philosophy professor is preparing for a coast-to-coast bicycling journey in an attempt to raise $27,500 for Habitat For Humanity in Bryan-College Station.

Jose Luis Bermudez, 50, teaches both lower and upper-level philosophy at Texas A&M, and for several years served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Every moment for Bermudez not spent teaching or working with his horse at home is spent training and conditioning for extensive bike runs.

The professor has already completed two major races in recent years, both raising large quantities of funds for Habitat for Humanity. He finished the 3,000-mile Race Across America in 2015, and in 2016 finished in 10th place for the Tour Divide, a race along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico.

On June 3, Bermudez will take off from Oregon and travel 4,228 miles to Yorktown, Virginia. This trip will cross mountain ranges and take Bermudez through hot and humid climates, all in a matter of just 20 days. Bermudez will stop to sleep for only four-hour stints each day using a sleeping bag he'll carry on his back. He will be pitted against 160 competitors and hopes to finish before the rest.

"To be successful, you need to be incredibly physically fit," Bermudez said. "You also have to be psychologically fit in order to deal with the sleep depravation, hunger, heat and cold."

Bermudez will ride up mountain ranges, focusing on the road and the natural beauty around him. He has no teammates and will be on the road alone. But he doesn't mind the challenge; in fact, he thrives on the competition and risk. Ever since he moved to the United States from Britain in 2000, Bermudez has been bicycle crazy.

"I train with integral training; high-intensity activity, then rest and repeat," he said. "I also have long legs, and I work to strengthen my core."

With each major race in the past, Bermudez has raised enough money to fund the construction of a home in Bryan-College Station through Habitat for Humanity. With this race, sponsored by Texas A&M faculty, friends, local businesses, medical professionals and online fans, he hopes to collect enough to build a third home in Brazos County.

"One hundred percent of the money I raise goes to Habitat for Humanity," Bermudez said. "I also get in-kind bicycle parts and things like shirts from various manufacturers. Aggieland Cycling has been supporting me ever since I moved here."

The educator's connection to Habitat actually comes from his experiencesof biking long distances.

"I spend so much time on my bike in this part of Texas," Bermudez said. "There is an incredible disparity between homes here. I'll pass mansions and dream homes on my bike, and just a few miles away there are shacks where families live without air conditioning. Habitat for Humanity is one way I can contribute personally to helping improve the housing in the area."

Friends and supporters will be able to follow his journey on social media as Bermudez will take brief breaks to update Facebook. Like all other racers, he will also be wearing a GPS tracker that can be followed online.

Supporters can donate toward the cause now by visiting habitatbcs.networkforgood.com and selecting Bermudez's name. Habitat for Humanity will also be taking donations during the 20 days in June that Bermudez is traveling.

For more information and to track Bermudez' journey, visit www.facebook.com/JoseBermudezRAAM2013/.

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