By Dan Bechtold, Editor
Bob Simpson Saturday embarked on a 735-mile bike race across the dirt paths and gravel roads of South Dakota.
The former Winner resident is the son of John and Freya Simpson.
He now lives in Sioux Falls where he is the vice president for affordable and green finance for Fannie Mae. Simpson runs the affordable housing program across the United States.
The 1988 graduate of Winner High School is taking part in the Trans South Dakota Bikepacking Race. He is one of ten participants from all across the United States who are now in Beulah, Wyo. Simpson spoke with the Winner Advocate from an area the group of 10 were camping in in Wyoming. The race will end in Sioux City Iowa, and each participant is given 12 days to finish the race. Simpson estimates he will finish it in seven days.
The route is set and will take the bike riders through the Black Hills, Badlands, Ft. Pierre, cross the Missouri River, to Mitchell and then to North Sioux City.
Simpson loves to ride a bike and has done 100 mile journeys but never 700. “I decided to do this race because the idea of riding on hiking trails, dirt paths and gravel roads across the beautiful state of South Dakota seemed like a good personal challenge for a guy who is rapidly approaching 50. However, as I began my training I wanted to make this race mean more. And that’s why I am raising money for affording housing,” he said. He is being sponsored by Make Room, a national campaign to help end housing instability in the United States.
Like Simpson, Make Room believes that when more people and their families live in an affordable home, it strengthens our communities and builds stronger neighborhoods.
Simpson said that today 11 million households—that’s 25 million Americans—pay more than half their income to rent and utilities. As a result, they are routinely forced to make heartbreaking choices between food, clothing, and medical care for their families or paying their rent to avoid eviction.
“I don’t believe these are choices that people who live and work in America should have to make and that is why I am riding to raise money for Make Room,” he said.
The goal is to raise $7,500 and already $10,000 has been raised and the race had not ever started.
With the temperature this week to be at 100 degrees, Simpson says he will have to pace himself. “I will take lots of water and pay attention to my body. If I get to hot I will stop and find a gas station or convenience store or spend some time under the shade of a tree.”
To beat the heat, he may start earlier in the morning and ride later at night. All the bikes are equipped with lights.
“I just have to be smart,” he said.
Though his goal is to raise money and awareness for affordable housing, Simpson also wants to enjoy the scenery and the commaderie and whatever each day brings.
Following graduation from Winner High School, Simpson went to the University of South Dakota where he graduated in 1992 with a degree in English. He worked for former U.S. Senator Tom Dashcle for seven years, mainly in his Washington, D.C. Office.
Following work for Daschle, he joined Fannie Mae where he has been for 18 years.
“I love to help low income people find homes they can afford and have the security of knowing they are living in a home that is stable. That is a tremendous advantage for kids. Too many kids grow up in poverty.”
A passionate believer in what he does, this Winner High School graduate is ready to take on the challenges that the back roads of South Dakota has to offer.