Motivated by his father Loren's fight against terminal cancer, lifelong New York Rangers fan David Clark took to his bike in the middle of winter to spread a message of hope through six NHL cities, ending his 1,000-mile quest at Madison Square Garden.
David, an endurance athlete and author, pegged the journey the "I Got Your Six Ride," a reference to the military term for "I got your back," to raise awareness and money for Hockey Fights Cancer.
"I just wanted people to know that they're not alone," David said.
Loren was David's biggest supporter through the ride, which started on Jan. 5 in Chicago and ended on Jan. 17 in New York City. On Tuesday, Loren died at the age of 72. David estimates his dad must have watched the mini documentary chronicling the journey about 100 times.
"We talked every night during the ride and I kinda showcased that in the film," David said. "He probably encouraged me more than I did him."
Clark used a fat bike for the ride, with wide tires suited for rough terrain and weather conditions, expecting there would be some snow from Chicago to Detroit to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Newark to New York City. Some of the biggest challenges, however, came from freezing rain, high winds, and steep inclines and declines through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountain ranges.
Traffic also seemed to never end, no matter how remote the route became. He had friends following along in a van to help keep him moving steadily on the roads.
He included Valley Forge, Pennsylvania as a stop because Loren had taken him there when he was growing up and it was a special place for their family. During the ride, his mind went to his dad many times, especially when he was struggling on the bike with fatigue and pain.
"Eventually a thought hit me," Clark said in the documentary. "My dad doesn't get to 'get off the bike.' People out there fighting, they don't get to get off the bike. So I rode as hard as I could through Valley Forge."
Before he got to Pittsburgh, Clark got a call from Loren telling him he believed his cancer had spread because he was in tremendous pain, and Clark considered cutting the trip short to be with his dad, but he continued on with Loren's blessing.
In addition to his dad's support, and the support from people who donated hotel rooms and money, Clark was touched by the encouragement he received from strangers along the way.
And on the last day of his ride, Clark's dad was taken out of hospice and returned home
Clark posted his mini documentary to YouTube and is accepting donations toward Hockey Fights Cancer through his website: www.wearesuperman.com.