Mercy Riders

Pushing pedals, pushing hope

The Team

CrewRiders
Barb | MichelleJim | Mark | Greg | Bill | Emil | Keith


James AndricopulosJim Andricopulos

Hometown:Chicago, IL | Ride Age: 51 | Family: Wife Amy Lynn, daughters Sophia Maria, Patra & Leah | Job: Self Employed, Commercial Lending Contract Auditor | Non-fitness hobbies: baseball, pool, music

Physical: 5’9″,  175 lbs | Resting pulse: 60 bpm | Riding Experience: Recreational rider < 1000 miles/year until 2009.  Started riding more actively in Fall 2010 as the 50 year mark approached. | Weekly training: 100 – 200 miles | Other fitness: Nordic Track, basketball, tennis, racquetball

Recent fitness accomplishments: 100mi-North Shore Century, Sept, 2011 + 2012; 155 mi-Ride to + from Starved Rock, Bike de Farms, July 2011 + 2012

The Mercy Ride
Growing up in the Chicago area, at the earliest age, moving by bike was my escape and my release, from the time I received a bike for my birthday as a six year old, it was on! – I also dreamed in my youth of riding across the country. As an adult, after meeting a family friend who’d accepted the challenge and made the ride in his 50’s, the dream was rekindled, as he spoke about the ride at the slightest invitation well into his 90’s. Then a few things happened at once; my daughters grew more and more independent and left me with more and more time on my hands, my older brothers began to run marathons and triathlons and Greg even completed an Ironman this year! And then, unfortunately, in 2010, my wife was diagnosed with MS.  I began to take the example from my brothers and took my physical fitness more seriously. I was also hoping to provide inspiration to my wife (in her dealings with MS) as well as my daughters, who, as Marching Band members, were always physically active, but with high school ending they were facing more lifestyle choices. I was hoping they’d embrace bicycling as a part of their lifestyle, because of all, I believed, it had to offer.

At that time, I’d ridden a few times with friends (Emil, Greg and Bill) who were road biking at a distance and pace that I found much more interesting. In the fall of 2010 I began to increase my daily physical activity primarily via a daily Nordic Trac to increase endurance and lose weight, getting ready for the Spring 2011 cycling season in earnest. In order to support the fight against MS, I formed a team (Cyclopulos) for the Illinois MS ride (Tour de Farms in Dekalb, IL). In 2011, our team was only 5, but our enthusiasm was strong. In 2012, with the help of my brothers, wife and daughters and friends, we had 11 team members raised over $3,000 for the fight. Not bad for a second year. I was emboldened – Biking can make fundraising fun! I began to ride everywhere I could – riding to work, White Sox games, family get togethers. everywhere! This year, I’ve logged over 5,200 miles so far, and I’ve enjoyed every moment!

Then Greg and Emil invited me to join them on a cross country bike ride – to benefit Mercy Housing, a charity that Bill was personally very invested in. I had to give it some thought – taking seven weeks off without pay to do this while trying to pay tuition for 3 college-age daughters, is a pretty big step. I’d known, from talking to Bill, about the charity’s commitment to combatting urban blight and keeping people in their homes despite their economic hardships. I began to educate myself more about the mortgage lending crisis and what impact it’s having on the neighborhoods that I saw first hand as I’d ride my bike on the south side of Chicago.  Everything came full circle for me and I was beginning to feel very strongly about this. Then, when I looked at the web site and saw how vast this commitment was, I thought ‘I really must do this. It’s a great and worthy cause.’ I don’t know how much money I can raise, but I believe I can help raise awareness. Like I said, quite a few things came together at the same time. That’s only happened once or twice in my life, so, I figure, I’d better pay close attention.  Now, the only things I’m really concerned about are crossing the Rockies. I don’t have the experience some of the other riders have, but I’ve been getting a large dose of it and I can feel my strength increasing. How will I respond to the 100 miles-a-day journey? I’ll keep training hard and then I put it in God’s hands. He has placed me in the hands of capable people and has yet to lead me to something he couldn’t get me through.


Mark BucherlNavigation

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN | Ride Age: 52 | Family: daughters Erin & Cori, sons Ryan & Sean | Job: IT Marketing Manager, Roche Diagnostics | Non-fitness hobbies: singing, reading

Physical: 6’0″,  190 lbs | Resting pulse: 55 bpm | Riding Experience: Bicycle raced six years until 1986; started riding again Spring, 2011 | Weekly training: 100 – 200 miles | Other fitness: rowing machine, running (especially when traveling)

Recent & Past Events: Apple Cider Century, Sept, 2012; 160 mi-Ride Across Indiana, July 2012; 100mi -Tour de Cure, June 2012  |  Memorables: 1999-Bop-to-the-Top Stair Climb (top-10); Category 3 road and track racing; Purdue Crew, 1984-86

The Mercy Ride
I dreamed in my youth of riding across the country. After college and the births of children, I hung my bicycle on the garage wall and bought a rowing machine. I could row early mornings in the basement for an hour or two, three to four times a week. I passed 10 million meters rowed, last year. With kids gone or grown, I felt I could begin taking daytime to ride again. It’s been amazing! My friend Emil told me about the idea he and other friends conjured on their Ride the Rockies ride in 2011. He asked if I wanted to ride cross country – to benefit a charity called Mercy Housing. I hadn’t heard of it, but reading their website, and after meeting their Chicago office staff, I thought that this would be a great charity to support — making some mornings — when it was hard to get up — bearable! How did I get seven weeks off to do this thing? It happened that I found a new job opportunity with my employer, Roche, and I asked to take off part of the summer to support this event and they said “Yes!” (Roche was recently named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies to work for, by the way.)

Now, the only things I’m really concerned about are: getting enough miles ridden to make our predicted 100 miles-a-day physically tolerable and that my rear is “sufficiently calloused” to maintain 6-8 hours a day in the saddle! And, probably most importantly, not only to say I did this thing, but to know that I made a great effort fundraising and awareness raising for Mercy Housing. It really fills a unique role in providing housing for the most challenged and destitute in metropolitan areas. Hope to see you on the road!


Greg DuffnerGreg DuffnerNavigation

Hometown:  Frankfort, IL.  |  Ride age: 53  |  Wife of 24yrs, Rosemary McGrath  |  Children:  Eileen, 21; Brendan, 19; Caitlin, 17  |  Job, dentist, 27 yrs  |  Hobbies:  volleyball, racquetball, photography, woodworking  |  Cantor, St. Mary’s Church, Mokena, IL

Physical: 5’11”,  175 lbs

Recent and Past Ride Events: Weekly riding, 100-200 miles; 2012 riding 6600+ miles, including 9 century rides: Illinois and Wisconsin MS rides, Ride the Rockies, TOSRV South, Apple Cider Century, and FOS Easter Century.

The Mercy Ride
I started cycling the summer of 1985, just after I graduated from dental school. My sister Barb and I rode our bikes from her house in Florida to my house in Chicago. We carried all our gear with us on our bikes and saw some great sites during this excellent adventure. The best part of the trip was meeting all the wonderful folks along the way, including a few guys who were riding across the country, coast to coast. Since then, riding across the country has been on my bucket list.

A few years ago, I asked my good friend, Emil McCauley, if he’d like to ride across the country with me. He was enthusiastic about the idea right from the start. Emil thought we should do the ride with a purpose, to benefit a charity. I’ve ridden 33 charity bike rides, 30 of them for MS, and fifteen of those with Emil. We were considering riding for MS. I asked our friend Bill Goldsmith if he’d like to join us on the ride. His first response was, “Yeah, on a Harley!”  Five minutes later, Bill shouted out, “We could ride for Mercy!” He began to outline all the details of the trip and I couldn’t get a word in! That’s how the Mercy Riders got started. We asked Mark Bucherl if he was interested the summer of 2010 when he was in Chicago on a visit. Keith Melbourne expressed his interest when we met him during Ride the Rockies in 2012. Jim Andricopulos, a Chicago neighbor who has been riding with us for about a year, said he’d like to join shortly after that. All these guys are good riders, with a deep Christian commitment toward helping others. My sister, Barb Duffner, will be driving a support van, and, with the help of Emil’s wife, Michelle, they will carry all our gear and spare parts.

I’m really looking forward to riding — with great friends, great support and for a great cause!


Bill GoldsmithBill Goldsmith

Hometown: Frankfort, IL | Ride Age: 58 | Family: Amy wife of 21 years, daughters Alexa (20), Nicole (18) & Allison (14) | Job: President, Mercy Portfolio Services & Mortgage Resolution Fund

Physical: 5’9”, 200 lbs. | Resting pulse: 60 bpm | Weekly training: 100 miles, moving to 250 per week by March 2013.  I also want to be at 190lbs by the beginning of the ride.  Hold me to it.

Riding Experience: Began riding in March of 2011; Ride the Rockies (2X); Apple Cider Century; North Shore Century; TOSRV double century, Tallahassee, Florida; and many, many weekend rides to Chicago, Morris and Starved Rock

The Mercy Ride
I have worked in the non-profit affordable housing world since attending Princeton Theological Seminary in 1986. My passion has always been to help individuals who work hard to make a better world for themselves, their family and community. I believe no one succeeds alone, and we all have a role in helping people, families and communities get back on track – or get on track for the first time. Personally, I have lived a good life and have been blessed in many ways. But like most people, I have also faced circumstances in my life, and in the lives of people I know and love, that remind me how fragile life can be. To paraphrase the 16th century evangelical pastor, John Bradford, “But by the grace of God, there go I.”

Each year Mercy Housing serves more than 140,000 individuals in forty-two states, moving their lives forward by providing safe, clean places to live that include services such as counseling, medical care, addiction prevention, and nutrition. Mercy Housing knows that hope for a brighter future begins with a clear path to success. Our Resident Services program helps thousands of individuals find their place on that path and provides them the skills to move forward and realize their fullest potential.

Last year I met John at a Mercy Housing Lakefront residence. John is about my age, served in the Navy like me and is someone of great warmth and caring. Unfortunately, John has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had lived on the streets of Chicago for nearly 20 years—even during Chicago’s harsh winter months. Today, John is living in a Mercy Housing apartment, is taking his medication, has returned to his passion of art, and is a model citizen for his fellow residents. By his own confession, John doubts that he would be alive today without Mercy Housing. John is now person of hope.

Economic recession has impacts well beyond employment rates and foreclosure statistics. There are far-reaching and long-lasting impacts to children and individuals who lack a foundation of support. And, like John, many Mercy Housing residents are coping with a mental illness or a physical handicap. With your support and the support of the Mercy Riders, many more people and families can find hope.

I am so proud to count as my friends people like Greg, Emil, Jim, Mark and Keith. I know each of them well, having biked with them for thousands of miles through mountains, wind storms and pounding rain. Greg and Emil were the first to get me into riding in March of 2011. Since then, I have logged almost 8,300 biking miles. These individuals are people of strong character and are committed to this ride across America because it meets a deep desire to accomplish something physically significant and spiritually rewarding.

Please visit www.mercyhousing.org to learn more about the important work that Mercy Housing is doing around the country. If you want to learn more about my work at Mercy Housing, please click www.mercyhousing.org/portfolioservices. There you will find several links to different Mercy Housing ministries that are making a meaningful impact on our community by helping struggling families get back on track.


Emil McCauleyNavigation

Click on this link to go to my blog of sorts during the ride.

Hometown: Frankfort, IL| Ride Age: 50 | Family: wife Michelle of 23 years; daughters Anne & Claire; sons Carl, Mark & Matthew| Job: VP at Planera Architects | Hobbies: volleyball, softball, architectural computer animation, model railroad  | Affiliations: SVdP member; Lakeview Estates HOA Board Member

Physical: 6’2″,  195 lbs | Weekly training: 100 – 200 miles

Recent & Past Ride Events:  2012, 4000+ miles,  including:  100 miles – Apple Cider Century, Sept 2012; 153 miles – Starved Rock day ride, Sept 2012; 203 miles – Wisconsin MS Best Dam Bike Tour, August 2012; 206 miles – Illinois MS Tour de Farms, June 2012;  450+ miles – Ride the Rockies, June 2012; 102 miles – Chicago and back, June 2012; 202 miles – TOSRV (Florida/Georgia), April 2012

2011, 4000+ miles, including: Apple Cider Century, Wisconsin MS Best Dam Bike Tour, Illinois MS Tour de Farms, Ride the Rockies, Easter Century

The Mercy Ride
In 2010 there was talk among my riding buddies about riding across country. While intrigued, I concluded that I couldn’t emotionally or financially get behind taking the time off work, much of which is beyond my couple of weeks of vacation, to ‘simply’ bike across the country and say “hey look what I just did.” However, my attitude began to change and the ride become a reality for me when raising money for Mercy Housing was suggested.

Mercy Housing’s mission of providing housing and life skills support to the poor resonates with me on several levels. As an architect, I’m passionate about the relationships of the spaces within a building, and how the spaces will positively impact its occupants. Going a step beyond, I am also sensitive to the impact the building has on the surrounding community. Mercy Housing creates a safe environment for their clients by way of creating new structures, or by helping those in single family homes afford to stay in their homes. Each approach impacts the individual and the greater community in positive, constructive ways.

Mercy Housing’s mission to help the poor parallels the work I’ve been so fortunate to partake in as a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. I am blessed to have the opportunity to get out and help those who find themselves in need in our area.

My whole family is behind this ride, which is comforting to me. Michelle has found a wonderful job that will help cover the time I have to take off work. She and our two youngest sons will SAG for the ride, and have their own adventure along the way. Everything is coming together nicely.

These days I find myself riding in organized rides for great causes. It gives me purpose.  If riding is a talent, I offer my time and talent to this ride. I see myself as a conduit through which others’ treasure can positively impact someone’s life through their support of this ride. With your help, I will say “look what WE have done.”

I encourage you to visit Mercy Housing’s website to see all the great work they do. Show it to a friend. And come back here often to see how we’re doing leading up to and during the ride. Your thoughts and prayers are vital to our safety and success.

God Bless +:)


Keith MelbourneKeith MelbourneNavigation

Hometown: Zurich, Switzerland | Ride Age: 54 | Family: wife Liz; daughter Joanna 21, son Jack 19 | Job: Left hp (Hewlett-Packard) Jan. 2013 after 30 years – considering next steps to take after the Mercy Ride | Hobbies: golf, guitar, skiing

Physical: 6’0″, 185 lbs | Resting pulse: 56 bpm | Riding Experience: Recreational rider ~2000 miles/year. Completed Ride the Rockies (462 Miles) and Col du Galibier and Alpe D’Huez in summer 2012.

The Mercy Ride
Cycling for me is the ultimate egalitarian sport. Anyone can do it, and the benefits are amazing. I enjoyed cycling everywhere in my high school and college years, but my passion was re-ignited with the advent of triathloning in the 80’s and the triumphant victory of Greg LeMond in the Tour De France — using Tri-bars.

I’ve completed several triathlons, as well as rides to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Advanced Medical Research, but I’m especially looking forward to taking on the “ride of my life” for Mercy Housing and the thousands of families and individuals it supports.

This is a once in a life time opportunity, and I can’t wait join the team in San Francisco for this great adventure.


Barb DuffnerBarb DuffnerNavigation

Ride Age: 55 | Family: Two Siberian Huskies, Echo and Ivan | Job: Integrated circuit designer for Avago Technologies (HP, twice removed) | Interests: Soccer, skiing, hiking, pottery, gardening

Riding history:  TOSRV South (two-day double century starting in Tallahassee, FL);  TOSRV (the original, in Ohio); Cross Florida Ride (170 miles, one day); TOARV (Tour of the Arkansas River Valley); Courage Classic (benefit for Children’s Hospital); Ride the Rockies; Bicycle Tour of Colorado; Triple Bypass (120 miles, 3 mountain passes, one day); Copper Triangle (benefit for Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s); Tour of the Moon (yes, the same one as in “American Flyers“)

The Mercy Ride
I had not heard of Mercy Housing until the “Chicago guys” (Greg, Bill, and Emil) joined our Ride the Rockies group two years ago, and Bill started talking about this organization, where he works. Now, I’m excited to be part of the Mercy Rider team as a support driver!  I’m also very proud of my brother and his friends for turning a personal ambition to ride across the country into a cause, and that was one thing that inspired me to sign on.  I’ve been in the support role in the past, once for the Cross Florida ride, a couple of times for the Triple ByPass ride, and several times for my husband’s marathons.

Driving a support vehicle for several weeks will be interesting. I’ll experience the changing weather conditions, the desert riding and the mountain climbs with the riders, but from the relative comfort of a car.  I expect that Michelle and I will get into a routine of camp set-up and tear-down, cooking, laundry, and other support tasks.  Based on how the first part of the ride goes into Colorado, I hope to pick up some travel companions, my Siberian Huskies, Echo and Ivan, to accompany me the rest of the trip. While the first part of the Mercy Ride will follow an established Adventure Cycling route from San Francisco into Colorado, I also have the responsibility for mapping the Denver to Chicago path.

In the end, I’m looking forward to helping make this ride happen, and to be a part of a great cause. While I’ve assisted with Habitat for Humanity projects in the past, and have been involved with Raptor Rescue for over 20 years, I’ve never before been a part of such an extended charitable effort.  I could see myself doing a ride like this in the future, but I would choose a pace a bit slower than what the boys are planning – an average of 105 miles a day. This time I’ll get to watch and see how the riders do, be there to support and enable them, and celebrate their adventure.  Then, I’ll keep my options open.


Michelle McCauleyMichelle McCauley Navigation

Hometown: Frankfort, Illinois | Ride Age: 47 | Family: Husband, Emil, 23 years; daughters, Anne & Claire; sons, Carl, Mark & Matt | Job: Special Education Teacher | Hobbies: Who has time for hobbies with five kids?

The Mercy Ride
When I think of what the Mercy Ride will mean for me, I think of one of my favorite movies, Up, and Ellie’s famous line,“Adventure is out there!”

I have always enjoyed the freedom that comes with following the road before me, and the Mercy Ride gives me that opportunity. My inner Ellie will thoroughly enjoy the adventures we will find on along the way! I’m thinking of this journey much like the time I spent traveling Europe when I studied in Rome during college. At Christmas break, the dorm closed down for a month. So, five friends and I explored Europe together, meandering through Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland, simply enjoying wherever we found ourselves. This will be my first summer break from my new full-time teaching position for middle school special needs students, so the parallels continue.

My primary support role will be to ensure the safety of the route for the riders, from Point A to Point B every day. My secondary role will include doing a lot of stinky laundry for the boys – yes, I think after riding 6 – 10 hours every day, making sure stinky/dirty becomes fresh/clean will be rather important.  I’m not the rider my husband Emil is, but I have always supported the MS rides and other rides he’s done over the years, and we did ride our tandem 100 miles together on the Apple Cider Century in 2007. Thanks again honey! I enjoyed sharing that ride with you, and I’m glad your knees recovered from pulling me along…

I have to share this experience with Emil and my two youngest sons, who, I’m sure, will be well-practiced helping set up tents and doing other small tasks by the end of the ride. We will be listening to audio recordings together, checking out the small towns and parks, along the way, and all of us will be journaling the experience.

Behind every great man is a great woman! Although my role will be primarily behind the scenes, it is an important role. Supporting a great cause and fundraising efforts of these great men will be a privilege.  I will be there for you guys! Just remember: I’m only married to one of you, so let’s not go too overboard on the honey-do lists.  Adventure is out there!