Plenty of people throughout the East Valley ride their bikes every day, but only one Queen Creek resident is doing it backward.
Positioned on his handlebars with his back toward oncoming traffic, Rudolph King Jr. plans on riding the 66 miles between his home to University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 26, to raise money for type 1 diabetes research.
“My dad told me, God’s not going to care how big your house is or what kind of car you’re driving, but what you have done for people,” King said. “You always have to give back – for humanity purposes.”
King’s family has a rocky history with the disease, which was the main reason he started fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“Witnessing the adversity that they continue to go through has inspired me to do this ride for the second time,” King said on his JDRF fundraising page.
According to the JDRF, 1.25 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes, including about 200,000 youth under 20 years old. In addition, 40,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have type 1 diabetes by 2050.
Despite about $14 billion spent toward type 1 diabetes research per year in the U.S., less than one-third of people with the disease are achieving target blood glucose control levels, according to the JDRF.
King has been riding bikes backward for over 30 years. He taught himself how around the time he was 15 years old, when his friends became interested in bicycle motocross. However, to be able to complete these extended trips for charity, King has had to overcome physical and mental obstacles from his past.
In the summer of 1976, King was horseback riding with his dad in Pasadena, California, when his horse was spooked and reared onto its hind legs, knocking King off with the exception of his right leg, which was caught in the stirrup. After being dragged by the galloping horse, King arrived at a hospital in Burbank unconscious and with a broken arm.
After 16 days in a coma and being declared brain dead, King amazingly woke up, and made a full recovery after a year of speech and physical therapy.
“Because of my own physical adversity and miraculous recovery, I made a promise to God I would touch and help as many people as I could throughout my life,” King said on his fundraising page.
King has been training every day, but he still plans on having his wife follow behind him in a car in August because of chaotic traffic and because some sections of his route do not have any designated bike lanes.
“I’m not going to lie, it is pretty hard,” King said. “I would not downplay it. I have a good technique down. Everybody is always videotaping me here in Queen Creek.”
In fact, a quick YouTube search of King riding backward results in a handful of videos commuters have taken on their phones as they pass him on the road.
Armed with a GoPro camera for this ride, he is aiming to make some stops during the trek to hand out T-shirts and take pictures. He also has been reaching out to news channels throughout the Valley to increase his exposure and, hopefully, increase donations.
To donate to King’s cause and read more about his story, visit his JDRF page at www2.jdrf.org/goto/rudyridesbackwards. To beat the heat, he will be starting his August ride early in the morning, and he estimates it will last about six hours or more with the planned stops.
King’s fundraising goal for this ride is $1,000. He said any amount helps in order to combat diabetes’ challenging, and often disastrous, effects on people with the disease and their families.