Burnt Hills Bound

5 08 2010

Cailley, Steve, Dave, Alex, Colin, Kevin, and Bandit by the Erie Canal in Brockport

Mileage:  60
Average: 13.4 

Waking up with many others was so exciting and we couldn’t wait to hit the road.  After getting ready and saying bye to Justin, Gwen, and Brittany we were off.  The new additions of the crew were David Jones (a close friend from BH), Colin’s Dad Kevin, and Steve Walsh (a friend of ours father who passed away from Leukemia 5 years ago).  We had about 5 miles of biking before we finally hit the Erie Canal bike path.  It was a relief to finally get off the busy roads of Buffalo and onto a bike path.  Even though most of the bike path was gravel, which was difficult for the road bikes, it was completely worth it having the canal beside us most of the way back to good old BURNT HILLS. 

Being off the main roads meant we could bike next to each other and catch up about each of our summers.  It was so nice having them here with us because it just meant that we were that much closer to home!  Like so many other people, we think it was a little shocking to Steve Walsh just how close of friends we all are.  Some people might think we are a little too comfortable, but our whole group of friends are like family to us and Steve Walsh was our newest addition. 

As we have mentioned before Steve Walsh’s son, Shawn Walsh, was diagnosed and within 2 weeks had passed away from Leukemia.  This was five years ago.  The summer before Shawn passed away, Steve and Shawn biked from Buffalo to Albany on the Erie Canal Bike path so we all knew it was going to be very emotional for him.  We knew we were going to be right there for him to help him through it.  The first day of riding you could tell it was hard for Steve, but he was still there with a smile enjoying talking and the scenery.  While biking Steve told Colin that he was wearing Shawn’s helmet that he had worn on the trip 5 years earlier.  He was trying to hold back tears when saying this.  Colin had a hard time holding back tears himself because people just don’t realize how hard it is to live after losing their child.  As the day went on, you could tell he was feeling more and more comfortable with us.  He began taking part in one of our favorite pass times: busting on Dave!   

Then, a little after lunch, we had made it to Brockport, New York.  We all enjoyed some appetizers along the Erie Canal.  Then after eating, we headed up to Hamlin Beach State Park where Mrs. Utz-Meagher had gotten us two campsites.  It was a beautiful state park right on Lake Ontario.  Later that day we were lucky enough to have Liz Montgomery another Burnt Hills friend of ours, her boyfriend Chris, and also a close friend of Alex’s and now ours Bobby come to visit us at the campsite.  We spent the evening catching up and enjoying a beautiful sunset.  Bandit really loved the company and being chased around the field for half an hour.  Let us just say, he slept well that night.  The day concluded with the general consensus that it was wonderful to be back in New York.  Seeing our family of friends put a smile on our faces as we thought about seeing everyone upon our arrival.     

Mileage: 68
Average: 12 

We left the State Park and got to Brockport around 7:45 where we met another one of our close friends, Cailley Wayman.  We haven’t seen her in so long and it was wonderful of her to come along!  She now lives in Pittsford, which is really close to Genesse Valley Park where we all used to run at the McQuaid Invitational for so many years in High School.  She has been competing in Triathlons for awhile now and recently signed up for the Lake Placid Ironman next summer.  We are hoping to get a crowd up there to cheer her on because finishing an Ironman is phenomenal and we can’t even fathom such an event.  Her life seems to be going wonderfully which puts a smile on all of our faces!  She biked from her house which was about 25 miles to Brockport, then she biked with us for approximately 30 miles, and then biked home.  She wanted to keep biking but unfortunately had to go to work.  We were all sad to see her go because the time went by so fast!  Having only been in New York for a couple days it was wonderful to see so many friends.  While talking to Cailley we discussed how difficult it is to keep in contact with people now since we don’t see each other everyday at practice, as we did in high school.  Once people get jobs, move away, and become busy with life’s demands it begins to get increasingly difficult to stay in touch.  This fact saddened us as we talked about how many people we missed and haven’t heard from in a while.  We were still so honored to have Cailley with us even though it was a short trip!  Cailley we are all so happy and proud of you and what you are doing!  Stay happy, thanks for coming, and we love you! 

After leaving Cailley, we continued to move on.  It was really nice because going through Rochester we had a bike path the whole way.  You can tell that it is a very biker friendly city.  We made it all the way to Clyde, New York but we actually had a hotel in Newark, New York.  We had to drive back a couple of miles to the Quality Inn.  After realizing we had to pay an additional $25 to have bandit, we had to sneak him in the back way and make sure he was extremely quiet for the night.  Luckily no one realized.  We hung out, watched TV, Brittany worked on posters for the event in Burnt Hills and we ate pizza.  Later that night, another one of our friends joined us for the return journey to Burnt Hills, Andrew Dimartino.  Around 9 his father dropped him off at our hotel and then had a good two and half hour drive back home.  Thank you for driving him, Mr. Dimartino!  Again, it was great to have more and more people join us on the trip.  It just makes everything better to have the ability to share this experience with so many people that we love.

Mileage:  71 
Average:  Like a rabbit….       

Waking up at a hotel always makes it hard to get going the next day.  Once we got back onto the Erie Canal bike path we were feeling awake and ready for the day ahead of us.  The majority of the day’s ride was on gravel which was grueling for the riders on road bikes.  I guess you can say it was a new challenge, riding on a beach!  Syracuse was a struggle to go through because there wasn’t a bike path, as there was in Rochester, which meant we were required to stay on the roads.  We had to stop multiple times to check the maps to figure out which way to go.  After doing this so many times, it began to get really hard to keep stopping and going.  Once we made it out of Syracuse we were all relieved to have survived the concrete maze.  We ended the day in Canastota, New York.  Since the number of bikers seems to be steadily increasing, we ran out of room on the bike rack.  There was about 8 miles to get to Verona Beach State Park which meant that those who were not too tired had to bike the distance.  Dave, Colin, and Alex willingly volunteered for the extra ride.  This was yet another beautiful campground right on Oneida Lake.   

After eating and setting up camp we all decided to go swimming in the lake.  The water was really warm and shallow.  This worked out really well for Bandit because he was able to run really far out into the water without having to swim.  Finally, while chasing us in the water, he swam like a normal dog and didn’t seem as frightened as he used to be.  After swimming, another life changing event took place: Dave skipped his first rock EVER.  Yeah, we aren’t too sure if he had a childhood outdoors.  It was so funny to see how happy he was after he skipped it.  You have to love Dave Jones! 

Mileage:  71

After Dave, Colin and Alex made it back to Canastota we were off for the day.  Everyone was feeling pretty sore today since it has been a lot more miles than we expected.  It was a rough day all around though.  First of all Kevin was especially hurting and believed that he had pushed it too hard they day before.  But the answer to why he was hurting so much was not realized until about 40 miles into the ride when Colin and Kevin were biking next to each other.  Colin heard a noise on Kevin’s bike like something was rubbing.  After a quick examination, they figured out that his back brake was rubbing on against his tire.  That easily explained why he was having such a hard time.  On this trip we have each learned how hard it is to bike when your brakes are rubbing and were able to empathize with him.  You waste a lot more energy when you are biking like this.  Kevin couldn’t believe it and was really upset but also happy because it answered the question of why he was not feeling as good as he should have.  The thing that made this even worse for him was that 10 miles later there were some huge hills.  Alex commented that it was probably the biggest hill we have seen since Monarch Pass in Colorado.  They were pretty steep and long.  But finally we made it over both of the tough climbs and only had about 2 miles until we were done for the day in St. Johnsville.   

Due to the lack of car and bike rack space, Brittany and Colin biked from St. Johnsville to Palatine bridge were Colin’s Aunt works.  We had arranged for her to meet us there to drive us to Colin’s camp on Pecks Lake.  While Brittany and Colin were biking the rest of the gang went to the bike shop, grocery store, and then to camp.  Brittany was really excited to be able to bike after watching the guys all summer.  It ended up being about 15 miles to Palatine Bridge where Marion, Colin’s aunt was waiting for them.  Then they too headed to the camp for the night.  

Steve graciously purchased all of the groceries for the night while Kevin grilled all the hamburgers and veggie burgers.  Alex, Colin, Dave, and Andrew went swimming in the lake to cool off and rise off.  Brittany worked on more “to-dos” for the event to take place the following day.  The remainder of the night we spent anxiously awaiting the return of our team member, Joe!  The trip was not the same without him and we were thrilled that he was back at our sides to finish the remainder of the ride to Boston!

Mileage:  53

Today was an absolutely fantastic day.  We woke up to Steve cooking bacon and eggs.  Within minutes we had breakfast on the table.  We couldn’t believe the service!  After eating breakfast we took our time getting packed up and ready to go.  We had an interview in Amsterdam at 3 with News Channel 6, which meant we didn’t have to rush.  Despite this fact, we were still on our way to St. Johnsville by 8:30.  Then, after unpacking all the people, bikes, and bags we were ready to go.  Colin said to Steve, “It looks like it is going to rain.”  Not 5 seconds later it began to.  For about half an hour it rained fairly steadily, but we weren’t phased by it with the excitement of returning home and seeing friends and family at the event!  As soon as we hit the path, Brittany had to return home to prepare, pack, and set up for the event. 

 We arrived in Amsterdam at 12.  There we decided to waste some time by getting lunch right on the river.  However, it didn’t waste enough time because we were back on the bike path by 1:30 which meant we still had about an hour and a half until channel 6 arrived.  While waiting, we all talked until Channel 6 pulled up.  Both of the men were very nice and had Colin pegged to a T within minuets; in regards to being louder than Alex and Joe.  After realizing they only had two microphones, they turned to Colin and decided that he would probably be fine without one.  Then, he wanted one of us to wear a microphone while biking for a few miles and asked who was the most talkative while biking.  Without missing a beat, both Alex and Joe looked at Colin and started laughing.  Then the reporter said “I figured.”  It was a funny conversation and kind of lightened the mood with all the nerves rushing about as we were about to be interviewed.  The interview went really well, we were all really pleased with how it went but wished Brittany and Bandit could have been there! 

After the interview, we waited for some team in training members who ride with/for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to arrive.  Dave Kramer and Megan Reynolds arranged for them to join us for the approximate 20 mile ride to the Grand Union Plaza.  Around 3:40, after getting about 4 more riders, we were off again.  We also had the photographer come with us.  With his crazy skills he had the camera in one hand and was riding his bike with the other.  We were all really impressed with his balancing ability.  We all had to make sure we weren’t saying inappropriate things since we were still being recorded.  Joe, as usual, made sure he got in a couple of comments about how much he loves Brittany and how they are boyfriend and girlfriend.  Then when we got to 5S, the photographer left us and instead video taped us through the car window. 

Once we got to Rotterdam Jct., we found out that in Burnt Hills it was down pouring.  After having everything set up outside, all of the helpers at the High School were scrambling to get the baskets, baked goods and picture frames inside and set back up again.  At that same time it started to rain where we were.  For the rest of the ride it sprinkled but never rained hard.  Again, on RT. 50, Channel 6 got in front of us and the photographer was dangling out of the back of the car video taping us.  He pretty much did that all the way from Pashley road to a little bit before the Grand Union Plaza.  Then we saw the spectacular sight of about 30 Orange Shirts crowded around the Grand union plaza clapping and cheering.  We were all speechless and can’t put into words how happy we were.  It was so emotional for all of us to see everyone stand there clapping for us while we biked into the parking lot.  We knew at that moment Eric would be happy not because of the money we have raised but seeing how close this has brought the community together.  It brought tears to so many people’s eyes seeing us and talking to us.  As we said to the reporters, we aren’t heroes, we are just four individuals trying to inspire.  It was unbelievable to feel like we did seeing everyone there.   

Then after talking to as many people as we could we were ready to bike from there to the High School.  It was so cool seeing everyone behind us in Orange biking down RT. 50 with a police escort.  News Channel 6 again took footage of all of us biking to the High School.  Upon arriving to the high school, there was another mass of 50 people clapping and cheering as we all rode closer.  As we biked towards the mass of people, it felt so good to pick out all of the familiar faces smiling back at us.  It was such an emotional entrance and we were all fighting back tears. 

From that point on it was a blurry rush of trying to talk to everyone and thank them for coming!  There were so many amazing friends and family members there who we haven’t seen in months.  It was so hard to see and talk to everyone but we were so thankful for the wonderful turnout and all of the donations.  It is truly breath-taking the number of friends who stepped up to help out setting up and running the fundraiser.  It would be impossible to thank each and every person who contributed in some way, but you know who you are!  THANK YOU!  We truly do appreciate everything and are so grateful to live in such a giving community.  A big high five goes to Brittany Trowbridge and Megan Reynolds for coordinated the fundraiser.  However, we wouldn’t have gotten far without the support of our community.  This was without a doubt a group effort!

While at the event, the four of us were interviewed by the same reporter, Rebecca Strum from the Gazette, who wrote the article prior to our departure.  It was nice having her interview us again because she could appreciate all that we have been through.  The article was in the Gazette on August the 4th.  If you missed it, check it out online!  Thank you Rebecca!

We are also anxious to see all the footage and pictures taken by News Channel 6.  The story will air today, August 5th, at 5:30 and 6:30.  Unfortunately, we will be on the road and unable to see it! Thank goodness for DVR!


Today we decided to take a day off while at home.  It felt wonderful to sleep in our own beds and have friends and family around.  We each did our own things during the day but still managed to gather to clean out the van for its final trek to Boston.  At 8:00pm we all met at the Zagorda’s house to go over the route and get pumped for the last leg.  It wasn’t hard to get excited after such an amazing event the night before! 


Early this morning, we all gathered at the high school at 7:00 to head out for the final three days of biking.  Mr. Zagorda, Paul Rightmyer, and the three guys were packed and ready to go!  We had a small gathering of people there to see us off including: Mr. Trowbridge, Megan, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Utz-Meagher, and Mr. Pericone.  While we were gathered in the parking lot saying our hellos and goodbyes Mr. McGuire, the athletic director at Burnt Hills, drove up to offer his regrets for being unable to attend the fundraiser.  It was at that time that he went to his office and grabbed six BH-BL shirts for each of us to have and wear on the ride.  Thank you Mr. McGuire! 

Saturday we will arrive in Boston at our ending point of Brigham Circle.  From there, we will go to Carson’s Beach where the guys will be able to dip their tires in the Boston Harbor!  For all of those who are interested, we should be done around 1:00 pm and are asking Eric’s friends who are available from Northeastern to meet us for a picnic gathering.  Hope to see you there!

In amazement of our travels and the outpouring of support,

Alex, Joe, Colin, and Brittany

Biking along the canal!

Alex, Andrew, Sadie, Colin, Kevin, Dave, and Steve ready to ride!

Can you ever have too many sunset pictures? Sun setting on Oneida Lake

All of us sporting our orange shirts about to leave Pecks Lake!

Burnt Hills here we come!

Bandit reunited with his pal, Jessie!

A few of our beautiful helpers trying to recover things lost in the rain - thank you!


Everyone who joined in for the last mile to the High School. What a beautiful sight!

The wonderful entrance to the school.

Everyone about to arrive at the High School on Lakehill Road!

The four of us with the $500 donation from Walmart - thanks for your hard work Kim Durant!

Mr. and Mrs. Zagorda with the four of us - all smiles!

Sporting our new BHBL shirts about to depart for the final leg to Boston!




One response

6 08 2010
Terry Bergman

THANK YOU ALEX, JOE, COLIN, AND BRITTANY FOR AN INSPIRATION OF A LIFETIME! You have made the world a more hopeful, beautiful place. I am grateful for all of your stunning dedication and joyous contributions as you join the world of adults! Safe journey to Boston and Home!


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