The Rev. Don Wallick of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Sharon Woods Boulevard dipped his toe into the Pan Ohio Hope Ride last year.

The Rev. Don Wallick of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Sharon Woods Boulevard dipped his toe into the Pan Ohio Hope Ride last year.

This year, he dove right in.

Wallick, 45, pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd since Sept. 1, 2006, rode his aging bicycle all four days and all 325 miles in the fundraising event for the American Cancer Society that ended in Cincinnati on Aug. 1.

Some recovery was required, the avid bicyclist admitted.

"I was tired and sore each day but I was able to get up and go it each day," he said. "By day four I felt great. That was probably my best day.

"And then I didn't get on a bike for five days. Let's just say my rear bumper was a bit sore."

Wallick participated in one day of the Pan Ohio Hope Ride last year.

"To kind of try it out," he said. "I was looking for something that would be an event or a ride that would really challenge my skills, but I also knew that I would need something more than, 'Hey, that looks like a nice bike ride.' "

The Pan Ohio Hope Ride, which this year raised $414,125.92 for cancer research, certainly fit the bill for the minister. The more he thought about all the people he has sought to bring spiritual comfort to as they cope with cancer - their own or that of loved ones - the more the idea of "expressing solidarity" with them appealed, Wallick said.

"That really appealed to me."

From his experience in 2009, Wallick said that he knew participating in the Pan Ohio Hope Ride was much more than just getting in an awful lot of exercise. It was being cheered along the way of the first leg from Cleveland to Wooster, the second leg on into Columbus, the third leg stopping off at Springfield and the final one ending in Cincinnati.

But it was also, Wallick said, an opportunity to spend time with the other riders and to hear what inspired their participation. He encountered, among many others, an 83-year-old cancer survivor who has participated in all three of the Pan Ohio Hope Rides held so far, and a father-daughter team, the father blind and his daughter guiding him. Wallick also rode along with an 18-year cancer survivor in his 70s who was one of the driving forces in getting the Pan Ohio Hope Ride started.

"That chance to meet those people, it was really, really incredible," Wallick said. "I certainly will be signing up next year."

Wallick's tryout last year let him know just how much training he would need to ride for all four days.

"I was in really bad shape when I got to the end," he said of his one-day 2009 ride. "I finished, but I was in really bad shape every way you can imagine."

He began his training in March. Sort of.

"I'm a wimp in the cold and the rain, so March is not a good month for me to ride," Wallick admitted.

Nevertheless, he did get in some rides that month and then began in earnest in April, eventually covering a total of 1,200 rides, two or three of them 70 miles or more in length.

"I knew if I got past 70 that I could do all four days," Wallick said.

And he did, posting updates on his progress via his cell phone at the end of each day, often receiving inspiring comments from friends and members of the congregation in return.

"That was really neat and that kept me going," Wallick said.