Cyclist to ride Route 66 inspiring others

by | Aug 13, 2015 | Latest

By Joe Reavis

Staff Writer

[email protected]

As part of a lifestyle promoting healthy choices, Danielle Girdano of Nevada hits the highway next month seeking to set a second world record since she gave up a sedentary lifestyle as an unhealthy woman weighing 400 pounds.

Girdano, 37, will attempt to ride old Route 66 from Chicago, IL, to Santa Monica Pier in Las Angeles, CA, in fewer than 44 days. The ride is a distance of about 2,400 miles.

She has spoken with the woman who currently holds the record, a German, and says the record holder is confident her mark will stand. The Nevada rider sees things differently.

“I feel confident and I feel good,” she said. “I want to show that you can come full circle.”

Underlying motive for making the Route 66 ride is to draw attention to the perils of childhood obesity and bullying, both of which the cyclist endured in her younger years. Although she played sports as a child, by the time she was 29 years old Girdano found herself at 396 pounds, smoking two and a half packs of cigarettes a day and running short of breath while climbing a short flight of stairs.

“I remember the moment I made the decision that I was going to make a commitment to myself because no one else could do it for me. I needed to make a change for my health and my self-esteem,” she said, pointing out that she was not ready to die.

Through diet and movement, she dropped 100 pounds before ever stepping into a gym, and when she did she was introduced to a spin class. From that point, her focus turned to cycling as a main form of exercise. It took 2-3 years to get down to her current weight of about 168 pounds.

As she was shedding pounds and getting into physical shape, much of it by instinct, Girdano decided that she wanted to know what worked best and started studying health and nutrition. She is now a certified master personal trainer, owner of D’fine Sculpting and Nutrition, sits on the personal training advisory board of The Cooper Institute in Dallas and is a motivational speaker, among many other accomplishments.

In 2010, the fitness expert set a world record by riding the 2,100-mile Prairie Spirit Trail in 31 days, three days quicker than the old record. The trail runs from Canada to Oklahoma and had only been completed by two people before Girdano’s successful attempt.

And, her mark would have been faster if she had not wrecked near Bentonville, Ark., and lost time with a dislocated shoulder.

Since setting the record on the Prairie Spirit Trail, Girdano looked around to find a new challenge and settled on riding Route 66, a goal for which she is extensively training for six months. Area residents may catch her riding the backroads of Collin County, logging about 550 miles per week on her custom bicycle.

Although it will be just she and a pace driver on the road, the cyclist will be backed up by a team at home that will help her monitor diet, vital signs, weather, daily mileage and any number of details. For example, wind speed and direction affects riding position, speed and rest stops needed.

“Cycling is a sport of millimeters,” she said. Her bicycle features a carbon fiber frame to reduce weight, 27 gears, handlebars allowing four riding positions and disc brakes that work in wet conditions.

She will be wearing a monitor that measures calories burned and can adjust her daily diet accordingly. In addition, the 37-year-old plans to take a variety of clothing to accommodate changes in weather, such as the Midwest cold and rain along the route.

The ride route has been submitted to World Cycling Federation for approval and will be marked on global positioning satellite equipment to ensure that the route was followed.

Route 66, The Mother Road, was opened in 1926 and decommissioned in 1985 as it was replaced by the interstate highway system. Parts of the old road no longer exist so the route runs as closely to path of Route 66 as possible.

Girdano is looking to depart Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 20, depending on weather. The Sunday departure is planned to avoid workday traffic in the Windy City. She noted that three cyclists from Great Britain are departing a few days before her riding a 3-person tandem bicycle and that she would like to catch them, although it is not a priority.

Riding for a new world record, while being another personal accomplishment, is a means to draw attention to encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles before they have irreparable damaged themselves.

“What if we can get to people before a catastrophic event,” she asked?

One of those catastrophic events is teen suicide. Girdano pointed out that there is a direct correlation between childhood obesity, bullying and teen suicide.

“Here in North Texas, we’ve had a rash of teen suicides,” she said.

Childhood obesity, Girdano noted, takes two harmful paths, children may battle health damaging bulimia or anorexia attempts to stay slim, or they may become morbidly obese. She noted that in recent years, people have become more comfortable with being overweight and their health has suffered.

“We can teach people how to eat clean and healthy on a budget. We can teach a child that exercise can be fun. We can teach people how to read food labels,” she said.

The Route 66 ride will be tracked daily on www.highwaysforhealth.com, a web site that promotes healthy lifestyles. Proceeds from the ride will go to help fund Highways for Health initiatives that include fitness programs, community gardens, educational materials and children’s bicycle giveaways.

To register for the bicycle giveaways, children must sign up on the web site and log their daily physical activity.

“One of my hopes is that we inspire someone,” Girdano declared.

 

0 Comments

Related News

WISD dedicates Williams Center

WISD dedicates Williams Center

There was action on and off the court Tuesday, Jan. 4 as the Williams Center was officially dedicated by Wylie ISD. The center was built with funds secured in the passage of the $193.7 million WISD bond in May 2019. Of the total bond amount, $87 million was used for...

read more
COVID-19 continues to surge

COVID-19 continues to surge

Health officials reported the highest single day COVID-19 case count last week with more than 1 million infections. A total of 1,082,549 new COVID-19 cases were reported Monday, Jan. 3, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The large number of new...

read more
New electoral maps take effect Jan. 18

New electoral maps take effect Jan. 18

Following the 2020 Census, the Texas Legislature completed the important task of redrawing the electoral maps to be used over the next decade. Three new laws are set to take effect Jan. 18 following their approval during the 87th Legislature. House Bill 1, which sets...

read more
Plano East wins road game over Coppell

Plano East wins road game over Coppell

Hoping to bounce back after a loss, the Plano East Panthers responded in a big way with a district victory. Traveling to Coppell (3-1, 16-9), Plano East (3-1, 21-2) jumped out to an early first quarter lead and won 54-45. Muizz Qazi scored 12 points and Brandon...

read more
Lady Panthers win key district game over Coppell

Lady Panthers win key district game over Coppell

In a battle of the top two teams in District 6-6A, the Plano East Lady Panthers came out on top over the Coppell Cowgirls. Plano East (6-0, 16-3) got off to a hot start and withheld a furious Coppell (5-1, 27-1) rally to win 42-37 Tuesday night. Seniors Donavia Hall...

read more
Plano ISD updates COVID-19 protocols

Plano ISD updates COVID-19 protocols

Because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Plano ISD has updated the guidelines for schoolwide events and activities to protect the health and well-being of students and staff. The revised guidelines, which will be in effect through Feb. 4, include prohibiting...

read more
Dallas County opens additional testing sites

Dallas County opens additional testing sites

Amid a national testing shortage, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) will open four additional testing sites. The new facilities in Dallas County will be for anyone who needs a PCR COVID test. In addition to COVID tests, flu tests will be available at...

read more
Esports grows in popularity

Esports grows in popularity

Some high school students want to prove not all athletes play on a field or a court. The Wylie High School esports program has been around for a few years, but has taken off recently, says coach Jeremy Stout. Esports is a form of competition where athletes play video...

read more
Tax bills due Jan. 31

Tax bills due Jan. 31

To avoid fines and penalties, Wylie property owners are reminded that the deadline to pay property taxes to the Collin County Tax Office is Monday, January 31. Tax statements were mailed to property owners in October last year from the county tax office on behalf of...

read more