Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Burgers fuel charity bike ride

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Their hunger to give back rivals their hunger for burgers.

Two longtime friends are training for a 48-mile charity bike ride on July 19, where they plan to stop at every Burgerville — and there are 11 — in Clark County.

The plan started as an ongoing joke between 31-year-olds Matt Wastradowski and Dusty Hartshorn, who realized they shared a love for the local fast-food chain after meeting in 2002, when they worked at the former Fred Meyer on Fourth Plain Boulevard.

“For the longest time we’ve joked about going to every Burgerville in Clark County in one day,” said Wastradowski, a former Columbian staffer. “We realized it was doable.”

But that wasn’t enough for the pair. They wanted the trip to mean something more than an excuse to nosh on pepper bacon cheeseburgers and Walla Walla sweet onion rings. Wastradowski bought a bike earlier this year to prepare for the annual Bike MS Willamette Valley ride in August, so he and Hartshorn decided they would turn their Burgerville journey into a charity ride to raise money for the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

They’ll still be chowing down, of course.

“Up until last weekend, I’ve never ridden a bike more than 8 miles in a day,” Wastradowski said. “It’ll be a challenge for me. This is unlike anything I’ve ever done and I couldn’t be more excited for it.”

After brainstorming their plan, called the Tour de BV, the friends teamed up with Burgerville. Each of the Burgerville restaurants in Clark County has a donation bucket on the counter, and diners can also give money to the MS society to receive a bicycle coloring page for kids to decorate and have displayed in the restaurant.

“Every conversation I’ve had has been snowballing into something bigger,” Wastradowski said.

The ride begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Battle Ground Burgerville and will circle around the county, with stops at each Burgerville. They’ll end up at the Salmon Creek restaurant around 4:30 p.m. Friends of Wastradowski and Hartshorn will join them on the road and the pair encourage anyone with an interest to ride with them.

“There’s sort of a sense of pride around Burgerville,” Wastradowski said. “They started in Vancouver and have the local roots.”

Wastradowski became involved with the battle against MS after the dad of one of his good friends was diagnosed with the neurological disease a few years ago.

“He’s been really inspiring. He hasn’t let the disease debilitate him or stop him,” Wastradowski said. “His optimism and excitement and enthusiasm is infectious.”

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.