Their first bike ride in 2012 began at Girl Scout Park in Beavercreek, then out to Xenia, to Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs, and back. The ride took around seven hours to complete. After that ride, Hale was hooked.
“That first ride feeling. Just the feeling I got when I got it done. My first-ever long bike ride,” Hale said.
Stoops began riding when he lived in California in the 1970s. He rode his bike to work rain or shine. He began going on longer rides after his wife suggested he bike the Huffman bike ride, where bikers ride for 100 miles. Stoops has done the ride for 44 straight years.
Bike riding isn’t the only thing the friends do together. Both have been donating blood at the Community Blood Center. Stoops since an accident in 1979 caused him to have two blood transfusions, and Hale since he was finally able to on his 14th try. Stoops has donated blood 389 times and Hale has donated 93 times.
“Before I hit six years, I should hit 100. I like to give back to the community. It’s just a good and easy way to give back,” Hale said. “I like the Pepsi, too.”
Hale hopes to donate 1,000 times in his lifetime and he estimates he will do this in his 50s. Hale, who is on the autism spectrum, has a plan for just about everything. He said he doesn’t allow his disability to be a “crutch.”
“One of my big things is I’m big on no excuses. No excuses. Not for bad grades. Not for missing bike rides. Not for failing to give blood. No excuses,” Hale said.
Stoops was quick to add that Hale wasn’t giving himself the credit he deserved. Hale was voted Outstanding Senior while attending Fairmont High School. Hale made sure to add that he was also homecoming king. Hale also just received his bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in criminal justice, graduating with a 3.95.
“I won’t say he’s over the top, but he’s near the edge. He influences so many people in so many ways that I just have to admire him,” Stoops said.
The admiration is reciprocated. Hale said he admires Stoops’ drive, and that while Stoops might have to take a break from some things in the future, he hasn’t been stopped yet.
“He hasn’t given up. He could easily just say, ‘I don’t want to ride a bike again.’ He refuses to give up and he tries his best,” Hale said.
Beyond the Independence Pass bike ride, Hale has big plans for the future. Currently, he has biked in 510 cities in 49 different counties in five different states. He will hit 50 counties this week. In total, he has ridden 31,321 miles. And that’s just the beginning.
“I want to get 100,000 miles. I’m hoping that around the time I get 1,000 blood donations, I should hit 100,000 miles. And that will be nice. It will be like 100 miles for every blood donation. If you set your mind to it, it’s doable. If you say you want to get 1,000 blood donations, you’re going to get 1,000 donations. If you want to make 100,000 miles, and you bust your butt, you’re going to get 100,000 miles,” he said.