West Lauderdale teacher completes 444-mile cycle race
LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Ed Abdella cycled competitively growing up in Connecticut but stepped away from the sport once he went to college and later joined the military.
Abdella moved to Mississippi after returning from Iraq in 2005. He became a teacher at West Lauderdale High School where he still remains at teaching U.S. history.
After 26 years in the armed forces, Abdella began to have excruciating back pain that prevented him from being able to run, golf and even get out of bed in the morning.
“I injured my back a few years ago and Dr. Azhar Pasha at the Pain Management Center of Meridian helped rehab my back,” Abdella said. “He gave me some steroid shots in my back and it was like I was back to be 20 years old again.”
Abdella had taken up running over the years but got back into cycling after his knees began to hurt. He was inspired to compete in a long-distance cycle after hearing people in his cycling group talk about them.
“People in our group were doing things like century and metric century rides,” Abdella recalled. "I though that because of my age and my military background I could do something more and I started looking at ultra cycling races.
After doing some research on various ultra cycling races, Abdella discovered the Race Across America, a 3,000 mile race across the United States that begins in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.
Abdella discovered one of the qualifying races for the Race Across America is the Natchez Trace 444, a 444-mile race that begins in Brentwood, Tennessee and ends in Natchez. The trail also goes through Alabama with cyclists having 44 hours to cross the finish line.
It took Abdella 36 hours and 12 minutes to complete the 444 miles, finishing in 12th place overall. He said a big part of being able to complete the journey was the preparation that went into it.
“The thing about these ultra races is that it is all about the science behind it,” Abdella said. “Nutrition is huge. Whether you are going to do a liquid type diet or you’re going to do an actual solid diet is something you have to decide for when you’re out there.”
Abdella said the support he received from the West Lauderdale Community, his crew that rode along with him the full 444 miles and his son Hayes is what allowed him to cross the finish line.
“When I say that it was a journey for me, I wasn’t the only one. Everybody that I ever came in contact with that helped me are all apart of it,” Abdella said. “It was a community effort to get me over that finish line. It wasn’t just me.”
Completing his first ultra cycling race has made Abdella want to compete in more. Along with the Race Across America, Abdella said he would like to take part in the No Country for Old Men race that spans for 1,000 miles across West Texas.
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