Sal Gentile awoke one morning to the sounds of four noises blasting through his ears, as he described in a phone interview. He couldn't bring himself to get out of bed.
“I thought I had a brain injury,” he said. “I had no idea what was wrong; it just happened overnight.”
Fast-forward about 18 months, and he is training for the Salute to Silence Tinnitus, a 1,000-mile bicycle ride that will take him from Tampa, FL, to Washington, D.C., where he is to address the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus about the reason for those noises—tinnitus.
“The military and civilian populations need cures,” said Mr. Gentile, who is a veteran and retired IBM executive. “I run a support class for tinnitus at the University of South Florida through the American Tinnitus Association, and many veterans come to my class. The hearing aids help, but they don't stop the mental pain and anguish that they feel.”
The bike ride is to take place May 1-20 as part of the American Tinnitus Association's Tour de Tinnitus, which includes four additional rides ranging in distance from 62 miles to about 290 miles (https://bike.ata.org/registration). Mr. Gentile, 63, participated in last year's event, riding 100 miles around Florida and raising $5,200. For this year's ride, he had raised about $10,000 by the end of February.
“I want to educate the population on tinnitus as I cross different cities on my way to Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Gentile said. “I will have fliers and will be speaking to different city officials and anyone else in the small towns I visit.”
Stops along Mr. Gentile's route, which involves 40 to 75 miles of riding a day, include Bushnell, FL; Darien, GA; Charleston, SC; Lumberton, NC; and Arlington, VA. Other Tour de Tinnitus rides are to traverse the Pacific Northwest, Michigan, and Missouri.
Mr. Gentile is training for the journey by biking about 110 miles a week, a distance he will increase to 150 miles and then to 200 miles a week. He also takes yoga classes and Pilates personal training, and does cardiovascular exercise and light weight lifting at the gym. These habits have come with multiple benefits.
“Between the yoga and the one-on-one personal training, I've gotten much stronger both physically and mentally,” he said. “It's very therapeutic for me because it keeps my mind off of my tinnitus. On days that it's loud, I just stay more involved. It really helps.”
Matthew Coleman contributed additional reporting.
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