By Sam Elliott
Six years ago, Lawrence resident Michelle Krall was looking for something else she could do to stay active as she reached the end of her roller derby playing days.
“Roller derby’s tough. It can put a beating on your body,” she said.
So to give her body a “break,” now Krall just rides her bike for over 100 miles in 24-hour stretches.
She participated in her fourth consecutive 24 Hours of Booty event in Indianapolis June 24-25, totaling 160 miles as she and more than 400 fellow cyclists helped raise more than $150,000 for cancer research.
“It was awesome. I reached my riding goal of 160 miles. It took me quite a long time to do it, but hey, I had 24 hours so why not use it all?” Krall said. “This was the first time in five years of 24 Hours of Booty being in Indianapolis that it hasn’t rained … This year was just an extra energetic year — not that the last few years haven’t been energetic, but this year it just seemed like there was so much energy and positivity in the air. I don’t know if it had to do with, ‘Oh my God, we’re not going to have rain for the first time,’ or if it was something else, but the energy was just super positive this year.”
Participating cyclists had from 7 p.m. June 24 to 7 p.m. June 25 to ride laps around the 3.5-mile “Booty Loop” near Butler University and the event’s “Bootyville” headquarters, where food and entertainment were provided and a collection of cancer survivors, supporters and doctors gave presentations throughout the event.
“You’re meeting people and you’re riding with people who want to make a difference, you’re riding with survivors, you’re riding with people who are currently getting treated for cancer or they’ve got a family member — their stories fuel me to ride more and raise more money,” Krall said. “I have a lot of individuals in my life that have encountered cancer and I lost my uncle (Kurt Krall) two years ago to cancer … My uncle was a very avid bike rider. He, up until about three months before he passed away, was still riding his bike and that was just something where I looked at him and thought, ‘OK he’s got pancreatic cancer and he’s still getting out there riding 25 miles. What makes me think as a healthy individual I can’t get out there and ride 100 miles during this 24 hours?’”
For three years now Krall also has been involved with the Booty Crew Committee, helping promote the Indianapolis event as it’s grown over the years and become a mainstay in the area cycling community.
“The cool part is the neighborhoods get really involved now. We run through roughly three neighborhoods and they’ll throw big block parties for everybody,” she said. “They’ll bring the food, beer, whatever and the kids are out there on the street cheering you on, they’re ringing their cow bells and they’re clapping and yelling for you.”
Krall, who calls cycling her sanctuary, plans to be back at the Indianapolis 24 Hours of Booty next year — with another triple-digit mileage goal to help raise funds for the IU Cancer Research Center.
Outside of last year’s event, which was plagued by heavy rains for less-than-stellar cycling conditions, Krall has gone farther and farther with each 24 Hours of Booty ride.
“Every year I ride the 24 Hours of Booty, I increase my goal for mileage,” she said. “The first year I did 112 miles. Then the second year I did 155. Last year I only did 80 due to the rain, thanks Mother Nature for pouring down on our parade, but this year my goal was 160 miles.”
That goal was inspired by a friend of Krall’s through the 24 Hours of Booty event and the story of his late son who died after a fight with leukemia in 2008.
“One of the volunteers that comes and helps with the event, Steve Kibler, his son Camden passed away from cancer and he was only alive 160 days,” Krall said. “That’s where my 160-mile goal came from. I promised him I would ride 160 miles in honor of his son. It was kind of emotional. He was standing there at the finish line when I got done and I said, ‘I can’t look at you, I’m going to start bawling,’ and he said, ‘It’s too late, I’m already crying.’”