I called Walt Williams to discuss his upcoming ride in the 2013 Catoctin Challenge, a 100-mile charity ride that Williams will participate in for the second straight year. But I also wanted to ask him about reports that he is helping author a new book about Len Bias.
“We’re still making edits; we’re in the finishing stages,” the former Maryland great said. “As we get closer to the final stages, I’ll be able to elaborate on it a little bit more. As of now, you can just say we do have something in the works, and we took a different direction than most have. It’s not so much the [Bias] story, but the effect of the story.”
The project is a collaboration between Williams, fellow Terp Tony Massenburg and a writer. Williams said they hope to have a finished product before the end of 2013, so that it could be released during the Maryland basketball season.
And now, for the biking. The ride is put on by the League for People With Disabilities, a group that Williams has been helping for several years. The race itself is in its 18th year and has raised about a half-million dollars for local charities; last year, Williams said, about 150 riders helped raise more than $50,000.
Williams is leading a group of riders called Team Walt; he hopes to raise $50,000 this year “for two causes I’m passionate about.”
One is the Walter A. Williams Sr. Fund at the University of Maryland, which is named for his late father and provides assistance to Prince George’s County public high school students who need help paying for college tuition. The other, of course, is the League for People With Disabilities, which provides services for children and adults with disabilities in the Baltimore area. Williams’s 8-year old son has mild cerebral palsy, and he knows that many of the services available to his son now might be harder to come by one day.
“Once these children get to adulthood, you start to see services dwindle,” Williams said. “I thought it was important to be able to latch onto an organization that takes care of both children and adults.”
As for the bike riding itself, “When I was a little kid I used to pop wheelies up the whole block,” Williams said. “My extent of riding a bike was riding through the neighborhood, having fun as a kid.”
Now that he’s a 6-foot-8 adult, Williams bought a custom-made bike from a friend who’s 6-5 to help him make it through 100 miles.
“It’s a little bit different on the knees than if I was 5-foot-10,” he said. “But I had a blast last year. I was a little sore, but we got through it, man, we got through it.”
“Any amount,” he said, “is greatly appreciated.”
Read more about the race here.