After 38 years of sitting behind a desk buying and selling fresh produce, Mike Mulhern is about to tackle a much greater challenge.

Mulhern, co-owner of Superior Produce Inc., Sacramento, Calif., plans to abandon his desk chair for a bicycle and ride coast-to-coast. The Boston to San Francisco ride will raise money for the Avon Foundation’s Breast Cancer Crusade. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Avon Products Inc., Rye, N.Y.

Mulhern’s previous cycling experience was a 200-mile Sacramento to Yosemite trip to celebrate his 50th birthday.
“I did it just to prove I could,” he said.

Since then, his exercise has been limited to gym workouts.

The catalyst for Mulhern’s planned trek is last summer’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco. Mulhern was a spectator as his wife and Superior Produce partner, Cyndy, participated. He was particularly moved by two teenage girls crossing the finish line in tears, each wearing a button proclaiming “My mom died of breast cancer.”

“I was overwhelmed by the whole thing,” said Mulhern, who will turn 58 on the trip. “It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to stand and watch anymore. I wanted to join the fight.”

Within a month, plans for what he calls Coast2Coast4aCure were taking shape.

Training began in August, and Mulhern is cycling up to 100 miles a day. He plans to leave from the produce docks in Boston May 17, the day after his wife completes that city’s two-day, 39-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Mulhern’s 84-year old father, a Boston native, worked on the city’s banana dock 70 years ago.

Mulhern has mapped a 3,750-mile route that will deliver him to San Francisco in about six weeks, he said. Cyndy Mulhern will accompany her husband in the family’s recreational vehicle and plans to document progress on their Web site, www.coast2coast4acure.com, and on Facebook. 

Along the route, the Mulherns plans to meet with breast cancer survivors.

“They kind of have a network across the U.S.,“ Mike Mulhern said. “Through that association, we hope to contact a survivor at each stop and ask her to join us for dinner.”

Mulhern hopes to raise $50,000 for the Avon Foundation’s Breast Cancer Crusade. Donations may be made on the Coast2Coast4aCure Web site.

“I’ve talked with fresh produce people in Sacramento area and all have shown interest in supporting my effort,” Mulhern said.
 
In his absence, it will be business as usual at Superior Produce, he said, with the staff handling day-to-day functions.

Produce veteran rides bike to fight cancer

Courtesy Mike Mulhern

Mike Mulhern, co-owner of Superior Produce Inc, Sacramento, Calif., plans to leave from Boston on May 17, arriving in San Francisco about six weeks later, to raise money for the Avon Foundation's Breast Cancer Crusade.