LAKE CLEAR — Floyd Lampart is cycling back home as he pursues his 12,000-mile-long trip to raise money for two animal shelters.
On April 4, the Lake Clear man, 67, pedaled out of Lake Clear in 18-degree weather to kick off his Pedal for Paws journey, which took him to post offices resting on the four farthest points in the contiguous United States.
At each, he collected postage cancellations as tokens of his progress, the last one captured at Angle Inlet, Minn., in early August.
Lampart intends some of the money he has raised to help fund the installation of a $20,000 fire-suppression system at Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake.
A fire there could prove a nightmare, he said.
“The caged animals would certainly perish in a fire, and that’s something that I could not see happening,” Lampart said in a recent interview via cellphone from Duluth, Minn.
“I figured if we put in a sprinkler system, it would knock the fire down enough to allow firefighters to come in time to take care of things.”
That system would also cover the upstairs apartment, Floyd’s wife, Martha, said in a separate interview.
Floyd plans also to donate Pedal for Paws money to the Kanab, Utah, chapter of Best Friends Animal Society, to put toward the lab accompanying the medical clinic under construction there.
The shelter is in a remote location, Martha said, and performing tests and procedures in-house will speed up treatment of the animals there.
The Lamparts are long-time friends of the shelter, as they have adopted five dogs from there in the last seven years.
The Pedal for Paws adventure has also taken Floyd to far-flung post offices in Lubec, Maine; Key West, Fla.; and La Push, Wash.
He is bringing back more than donations, however. He is coming back with memories of great people and the serenity he found in nature.
“I would sit by the side of the road sometimes, and I could bet three or four drivers would come by and ask me if I was all right,” Floyd said via cellphone. “It’s a great feeling to know people like that are out there.”
As his trip captured media attention along the way, many people began recognizing him.
While in Mississippi, a woman noticed Floyd in a grocery store and told him to wait as she went to gather reporters from a local news station.
Floyd said that as he was leaving his tent behind a church, also in Mississippi, a father and son approached him. The boy had recognized him from television as they drove by in their car.
“I took a picture with the kid and told him, ‘You can do things like this, too.”
As far as scenery goes, Floyd calls cycling by Redwood National Park in northern California as the highlight.
“I’ve been in the woods all my life and have never seen trees that were 15 to 20 feet across and 2,000 years old,” he said. “It takes you to a place where you realize just how insignificant you are in the world.
“You will not be disappointed in going out to see these trees.”
Floyd’s journey has not come without its share of challenges. At the beginning, he cycled through snow, powerful winds and rain.
Later on, some bridges barred him from bicycle use. One time, he hitchhiked, holding a sign explaining that he just had to get his bike across the span.
Another time, Martha said, a police officer allowed Floyd to pedal across a bridge, following in his cruiser.
She has spent considerable effort checking her husband’s route ahead of time and calling bridge authorities to find out whether he could pedal across; once, with no other option, Floyd had to travel 30 or so miles off his route to avoid a bridge that had no bike access.
The Golden Gate in San Francisco has both bike and pedestrian lanes, so Floyd had no problem there, Martha said — except he accidentally took the pedestrian route and didn’t realize it until he was almost across.
While in the Southwest, Floyd resorted to traveling some in the dark due to the high daytime temperatures.
And the weather eventually took a toll on Floyd’s bike.
“The tubes in the tires split and delaminated because of the 140-to-150-degree heat coming from the pavement,” he said.
Nonetheless, he’s keeping the wheels rolling.
“It’s been great so far, and I expect it to be great ‘til the end,” he said.
“I expect him home, actually, by Labor Day weekend,” Martha said.
‘NOT JUST ANIMALS’
Floyd’s love for animals can be traced back to his childhood. And he volunteered for shelters, which opened his eyes to the hardships faced by animals that did not receive the care they needed.
“Shelters are always looking for support, and I figured I could give them as much support as I could,” he said.
Martha, who also volunteers at the Saranac Lake shelter, shares his passion.
“Some people say, ‘Well, they’re just animals,’” she said. “But they’re not.
“They have hearts and feelings, and they can be just as annoying as humans, but they can also be much more lovable.”
Floyd acquired an interest for long-distance cycling in 1994 while riding from Plum Island, N.Y., to Oregon. In 1999, he first decided to combine his new hobby with his passion for animals when he rode from Saranac Lake to Alaska and back.
The effort raised enough money to buy an anesthesia machine for animals at the Tri-Lakes Shelter.
Martha and a group of supporters have been publicizing Floyd’s trip via social media.
She said earlier this week that at least $14,000 has been raised for the Tri-Lakes Shelter and around $40,000 for Best Friends in Utah. To make a donation to the Saranac Lake facility, visit http://www.freewebs.com/tlhsny/apps/donations and scroll down to find “Pedaling for Paws.”
To trace Floyd’s journey, visit the Facebook page for Tri-Lakes Humane Society.