Harris planning ‘Biking for Biology’ fundraising ride to Mt. Mitchell

Darby Harris

Darby Harris, an instructor in Western Carolina University’s Department of Biology, will be climbing aboard his bike once again to raise money for WCU’s Student Biology Club.

Harris, who formerly spent five years as a “Category 1” racer, the highest ability level for amateur road cyclists, will be heading out from campus at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7. He plans to ride 1 mile for every $10 donated to the club. Proceeds from the “Biking for Biology” effort will fund educational events throughout the school year.

Harris will follow a route that takes him toward Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern U.S. He plans to depart from the parking lot of Stillwell Building and ride to Balsam, where he’ll get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and ride north toward Mt. Mitchell State Park.

The total distance from campus to Mt. Mitchell is around 110 miles, and the full route involves about 11,000 feet of climbing, said Harris, a three-time WCU alumnus. “In order to get the full distance, the Biology Club needs to raise $1,100,” he said. “If they raise more than that, I will turn around at the top of Mt. Mitchell and start riding back toward Cullowhee for as long as the money takes me.”

The upcoming ride will be Harris’ third effort to benefit students in the Biology Club. In fall of 2015, he completed a 142-mile ride that started at WCU and took him north on the parkway. Last year, during the “Mt. Everest Challenge,” he rode the out-and-back route between WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building and the Jackson County Airport 52 times for a total of 130 miles and 29,120 feet of climbing, which is slightly more than the difference between sea level and the height of Mt. Everest.

A “GoFundMe site has been set up to collect donations, which also can be made in person at the Biology Department office in Room 132 of the Natural Sciences Building. Donations are being accepted through Friday, Oct. 6.

For more information, contact Harris at 828-227-3662 or dmharris@wcu.edu.