June 23, 2006

Prof hopes bike trek on Natchez Trace inspires others

By Sarah Hoff

Nick Carty recently saw more wild turkey in two days than he had seen “my entire life.”

Carty, an assistant professor of speech at Dalton State College, recently completed a 444-mile bike ride to benefit the American Cancer Society. Carty rode the Natchez Trace Parkway through parts of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

Carty decided to bike on the Parkway because of its location and beauty.

“I love to travel. I’ve been to every country in Western Europe, and I wanted this project to involve a different kind of travel. The exercise from this project was good for the body, and the beauty of Natchez Trace was good for the soul,” he said.

Carty found the first leg of his journey the most rewarding.

“The Tennessee-Alabama border was the best part of the trip,” he said. “It was great pavement for biking, and I was still in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.” That’s where he encountered the wild turkey.

Carty decided to make the bike ride because of his interest in health issues. He is particularly concerned about obesity and its relationship to cancer.

“Research has shown that bad health can be directly linked to one of the hundreds of diseases we call cancer,” Carty said. “I wanted my bike ride to help the American Cancer Society fight these diseases.”

Carty enlisted the help of members of the Dalton State College chapters of Phi Theta Kappa and Circle K.

“Phi Theta Kappa, a scholarship and service organization on campus, sponsored me,” he said. “They have a relationship with the American Cancer Society. Jenna Caylor, the president of Phi Theta Kappa, set up a Web site to promote my cause to raise money.”

“It was a way for us to meet our service requirements, but more importantly, it gave us a chance to help with the fight against cancer,” said Caylor

The Circle K Club at Dalton State, an extension of the Kiwanis Club, helped with fundraising projects.

“The Circle K Club organized a garage sale in April. We used the garage sale to fund my trip and raise extra money to donate to the American Cancer Society,” Carty said.

It took Carty nine days to complete the 444-mile journey.

“I began the ride on Saturday, May 13,” he said. “I started in Franklin, Tenn. I arrived in Natchez, Miss., on Monday, May 22.”

While at Dalton State, Carty has dedicated himself to promoting physical activity and fitness both in and out of the classroom.

“I’ve been teaching at Dalton State for three years,” he said. “I’ve organized intramural sports out of my communications class to promote fitness. I also participate in faculty intramural sports, such as flag football and basketball.”

For this project, Carty chose biking because it is an activity he was familiar with during his time as an assistant professor at a community college in New Orleans.

“I used to ride back and forth from work 10 miles each direction, every day. But I had never tried a journey as physically demanding as this,” he said.

Carty hopes completing the ride will inspire others.

“One of my goals is to promote adult fitness. I want to encourage everyone to be physically active, because it’s so important for good health. I wanted to show everyone that a trip like this was absolutely possible to accomplish. If I can do it, others can do it, too.”