Champions by Year
On July 2, 2008, at age 65, Shirley Parsley rode the final mile of a bicycle trip from New Orleans to Ontario, Canada. At a distance of over 2,000 miles, it was by far the longest distance she had ever cycled. It was a ride she had dreamed of for years — an adventure to truly experience America while testing her endurance and ability to overcome challenges.
Shirley launched her journey, along with her friend Estelle, by heading east to Mobile and then tracing the historic Underground Railroad route north to Canada. Camping out at night and pedaling long hours during the day, Shirley pushed herself harder than ever before. Each day presented new and unique challenges — from hidden potholes, snapping dogs and oversized trucks forcing her off the roadway — to a tree that fell on Shirley’s tent during a nighttime storm. Although the tree crushed much of her gear, Shirley was miraculously unharmed.
By the time she cycled across the US border into Canada, Shirley Parsley truly understood the value of life experience. Her years of personal experience and growth gave her the confidence and stamina to realize this dream. The challenges she faced on this trip might have stopped her years ago, but now she appreciated how life’s toughest moments can make us stronger. With each day of cycling, Shirley found herself more open to new experiences and more likely to greet strangers with trust rather than apprehension. Shirley met many new people along the way and they changed her outlook on humanity. “There are so many good people out there in America,” Shirley says. “It’s just amazing.”
Shirley Parsley accomplished her goals to experience America and build her endurance — so she’s raised the bar for her next adventure: cycling across America from ocean-to-ocean.
Shirley Parsley — Peoples Health Champion