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Bayside man to bike cross−country to fight Alzheimer’s

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A 50−year−old bicyclist from Bayside will make his second cross−country trip this fall to raise money for Alzheimer’s following a 2,974−mile trek last year which has since led to a burgeoning second career for the former school teacher.

Lon Blais, who retired five years ago as an English teacher at Little Neck’s MS 67 and lives on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, will undertake two cycling trips this year to raise awareness and funds for AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed his father three years ago.

Since his long haul in the fall of 2008, which began in Bayside and took him across 14 states before he arrived in Santa Monica, Calif., Blais has also kicked off a new career as a life coach, inspiring others to follow paths they might not ordinarily have taken.

“I’m like a conduit,” he said. “If someone has career problems, I won’t advise them, but suggest they see a career counselor. If someone has psychological problems, I’ll point them in the direction of a psychologist. I’m a sign post.”

He said people who were inspired by his ride last year began sending him lists of things they wanted to accomplish and he, in turn, inspired them to do them. The lists included everything from writing a novel or going to a Broadway show to contacting a long−lost crush from college.

“It was nice to think that I was the impetus for them to do these things,” he said.

Now, Blais has set up his own life coach counseling practice, charging $75 per hour for customers.

From May 31 to June 6, he will take part in his first bike ride of the year, pedaling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS⁄Lifecycle ride. He will follow that trip with another that will begin in Lubec, Maine, and culminate in Key West. The second trip, which will begin Oct. 12 and end Nov. 21, will take him through Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

During the course of the trip, he will spend the night with friends in several states as well as sleep in his childhood home in Danvers, Mass. His California ride will act as a training session for his later trip.

“Last year, the idea of riding 545 miles would have killed me, but this year it’s a warm up,” he said. “I feel, sometimes, that ignorance is bliss with these types of things. It’s like getting married or having children — you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, but you’re glad you did.”

Blais said people interested in donating to his ride can do so through AIDS⁄Lifecycle at www.tofighthiv.org⁄goto⁄lonblais.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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