The Bodo name is fairly famous in Durango, but for Mark Bodo, the town was more familiar as family lore than reality – until a cross-country bicycle ride to raise money for both people and animals harmed by COVID-19 brought him to town.
“I’d never been here before, and I loved it. I told my dad after I left, ‘You know, maybe the Bodos need to return to Durango,” he said. “My son, he’s 15 and he does competitive fly-fishing. I was telling him, ‘Peyton, oh my gosh, you would thrive out here. You’d just love it.’”
Bodo – who lives in Johnson City, Tennessee, working as the information technology manager for the College of Nursing at East Tennessee State University – said a cross-country bicycle ride has always been on his bucket list.
With the novel coronavirus forcing everyone to work remotely, the 48-year-old figured the time was now or never to complete his cross-country bicycle tour.
He organized it as a charity ride with a GoFundMe page, RideAid 2020: Pedaling for People and Paws, to raise money for four charities:
Feeding America, which helps the food-insecure.Mercy Housing, which helps the homeless find affordable housing.American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Sidewalk Angels, which supports 20 no-kill shelters across the country.Bodo, who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, was surprised Durango had an ice rink.
“I’m so jealous. I grew up in Michigan playing hockey. Down in Tennessee, it’s very rare to find an ice rink,” he said.
The main stories about Durango that Bodo heard growing up were from his father, Roger, who told Mark about life on Ridges Basin Ranch, the Bodo property, which at its height included about 2,500 acres, Roger Bodo said.
“This bike ride was a surprise to me. It kind of came out of nowhere. But I’ve got to hand it to him. He gets a vision and he goes for it,” Roger Bodo said.
A portion of the Ridges Basin Ranch eventually was developed into Bodo Industrial Park, which has kept the family name prominent despite the fact that virtually all the Bodos have moved from the area. The remnants of the family’s old ranch house are now buried beneath the waters of Lake Nighthorse.
Louis Bodoira, Mark’s great-grandfather, first came to Colorado to work the coal mines after working on tunnels in Italy. His sons Michael, Francis and Louis Jr. joined him working in mines near Durango.
“They would take your name before you went into the mines,” Mark Bodo said. “My uncles would say ‘B,’ ‘O,’ ‘D,’ ‘O’, and the foreman would say that’s enough, and that’s how our name became Bodo in America.”
Bodo, who likes to ride between 60 and 80 miles a day, said his ride on July 24, the day after leaving Durango, to climb Wolf Creek Pass, was among his toughest on the tour.
But it wasn’t the toughest day.
“The most challenging day came between Baker, Nevada, and Millford, Utah,” he said. “I was climbing summits in 103-degree heat. It was 83 miles in the desert with no shade. Halfway through the ride, I had heat exhaustion. I needed shade.”
Bodo said he was saying his prayers asking for shade, when off in the distance he noticed a tree. As he grew closer, he realized it was a house, but as he got closer, it was apparent the house was abandoned.
He pulled into the house and a puddle of water raised his curiosity. He discovered the abandoned house still had water and a garden hose.
“It took me an hour cooling off with the hose before I was no longer nauseous and dizzy,” he said.
Bodo left San Francisco on June 30 and plans to finish his ride Aug. 29 in Yorktown, Virginia.