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Wellesley coach to bike cross-country for ALS

Glen Magpiong will raise money for ALS, which took his friend and co-coach.crdoit
Paul Seaver coached Milford basketball with Glen Magpiong. Bill Greene/Globe Staff/Boston Globe

Glen Magpiong is about to embark on a 3,100-mile bike ride. He has his nearly 77-year-old father to blame for the tortuous road ahead.

Long rides are nothing new to Earl Magpiong. In 1997, at age 60, he cycled almost 4,000 miles from Oregon to Virginia.

And two years ago, at 75, Earl decided to trek from the state of Washington to Revere.

“I was nervous for him,” said his son, the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Wellesley High. “I told him, ‘Dad, you’ve done this before. You don’t have to prove anything.’ But he’s an animal.”

And yet Earl’s long-distance cycling had an effect on his son.


“I started wondering if I could do the same thing,” said Glen. “I told him, ‘Hey Dad, would you be interested in doing it again?’ He said ‘Sure.’ ”

On Wednesday, they will be departing St. Augustine, Fla. Their destination?

“My driveway in San Clemente,’’ said Glen, who owns a house in the California coastal community. Father and son did their training in California.

They expect to make it back there in mid-June.

“I’ve been pretty active all my life,” said Earl, who lives north of Los Angeles and worked as a surveyor.

“I’ve run over 45 marathons,’’ including in Boston, Los Angeles, and the Philippines, he said. “I bike up and down the West Coast. And I still play basketball.”

In many ways, 53-year-old Glen, a retired State Farm agent who lives in Wellesley, shares his father’s thirst for adventure. He has completed 10 Ironman triathlons, which include a 112-mile bike ride on top of a marathon-distance run.

But this journey is more personal for Glen.

It’s to raise awareness and funds for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, which took the life of his assistant coach, Paul Seaver, in February 2013. The Magpiongs are calling their ride “Tour 2 Cure.”


Magpiong did not know Seaver until he applied for the junior varsity coaching position before the 2010-11 season.

“He was just looking to get back in the game and away from familiar territory,” Magpiong said.

Seaver had been a JV basketball coach in Milford, his hometown, from 1983 to ’88, and varsity coach at Franklin High (1988-1999), along with coaching youth basketball.

After a while, Magpiong said, “I sensed something was wrong.”

On the team bus heading to Natick for the last regular-season game in 2011, he said, “Paul told me what he had, but didn’t want the players to know. He said, ‘I don’t want them to worry about me.’”

“When Paul died, it touched us all, especially Glen,” said Wellesley athletic director John Brown. “I’m not surprised Glen’s doing this to raise money . . . He’s a great guy who cares about people, and tries to make a difference with everything he does.”

Brown added, “Earl told me riding across the country was on his bucket list. I don’t even like to fly across the country!”

Four of Earl’s friends — they call themselves the Old Kranks Bicycling Club — will start the ride with the Magpiongs. Two plan to go the distance, the other two will cut out in New Orleans to return to their businesses.

One of the Old Kranks, 71-year-old Otto Sanders, has been an avid cyclist for 10 years.

“It’s more than a hobby, it’s a passion,” he said. Sanders had a bout with lung cancer, and has been free of the disease for nine years. “Cycling helped me defeat the cancer. I feel blessed that I can still ride my bike.”


Glen has the blessing of his wife, Jane, and their two children, T.J., a junior at the University of Colorado, and Shannon, a sophomore at Arizona, for the ride.

“Jane said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the kids have been incredibly supportive. They worry about our safety, but they feel the reward outweighs the risk,’’ Magpiong said. “There’s an old family motto from a grandmother: A turtle only makes progress when he sticks his head out.”

It’s not that Glen has no concerns. “I’m worried about saddle sores! I’m also concerned about the mental test I’ll be faced with riding 50, 55 straight days. I really need to focus on not getting ahead of myself, and just focus on one pedal stroke at a time.”

They will lodge at motels along their route (Earl has booked the first 16 days), coordinating through maps provided by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Earl recalled his scariest cycling experience and it wasn’t on the road. He and a friend had stopped for a lunch break at a desolate spot in New Mexico. “We were getting ready to leave when two guys in a pickup truck stopped near us. They’d been drinking. One guy had two black eyes and blood all over him.

“He said to his partner, ‘Get the pistola.’ ” It sounded ominous, but it wasn’t a gun. “It was a bottle of tequila. They offered us a drink.”


Glen will be riding a Trek 520 bike. “I’ll travel as lightly as possible,” he said. A partial list: tools, GPS, pair of walking shorts, T-shirts, socks, Ipad, Ipod, sunscreen.

As for his Wellesley High squad, Magpiong said, “Some of the players know about it, but I’m not sure they know the extent of it. I really haven’t talked about it much.”

And what would Paul Seaver have said?

“He’d laugh and say ‘Don’t do this for me.’ But he’d support that I’m doing this for a great cause.”

To contribute to their fund-raising effort, go to community.als.net/tour2cure.

To follow the progress of Glen and Earl Magpiong on their trip, go to www.crazyguyonabike.com/tour2cure.

Lenny Megliola can be reached at lennymegs@aol.com.