fire service tribute ride

A cross-country bike ride to respect, remember and honor all fallen firefighters


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Update from Pataskala, OH, and THANK YOU

Hi All,

The trip is now finished, and I arrived to the World Trade Center site in New York City on the evening of 9/10, on time and on schedule.  I only had to alter the trip twice, the first being a pretty significant route change in Kansas, and the second one where I cut a rest day in DC to better visit the National Fire Academy.  In all the trip lasted 63 days, and I covered approximately 4320 miles.  I had 9 flats (luckily fewer than I anticipated), and had to change my tires once in Wyoming, and then a second time for the rear tire in Washington DC.  Otherwise the bike held up great, a lot of it because of the helpful firefighter/bike mechanics I met along the way.  I was also fortunate enough to ride with many different firefighters and other community members too.  I’d guess that I had someone riding with me around a third of the time on the road.  Many people were willing to come along on a last minute invitation, and they helped out tremendously navigating into and out of different cities.  I enjoyed all of the stories shared while riding, and thanks to all the riders who pointed out different landscapes, animals and other interesting features along the way.

I was able to visit somewhere over 70 different fire stations along the way, and every firefighter I met was helpful and supportive.  All of the fire crews were extremely generous with sharing food, water and gatorade, and that helped immensely.  Despite the vast landscape all across our country and miles between cities and towns, I have found that firefighters everywhere from coast to coast are genuinely committed to helping others and serving their communities.  It is very encouraging.  If able, please pass this email on to the fire crews that housed me during the trip, or at least pass on the message that I am safe and that I’ve made it all the way.

At the start of the trip I established two goals, the first being to honor, respect and remember all fallen firefighters, and the second being to promote a positive image of the American fire service.  With the help from all of you, I am confident that those two goals were met.  Many different fire crews went with me to visit various state and national firefighter memorials, and together we were able to remember those firefighters who have died in the line of duty.  There was even one opportunity in Michigan to dedicate a day of riding specifically for a firefighter who recently died in the line of duty.  Things like this made the trip more personal and really helped to bring the focus home.  Different media outlets also covered the trip and helped promote the overall message.  Through these media releases and other different interactions I had with people on the road, I think that the fire service was represented well, and that people were encouraged to hear a positive message about their local fire department helping out a cross-country cyclist.

Fundraising was another aspect of the trip, and many different unions, fire department associations, businesses, organizations and other individuals were willing to donate to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in support of the ride.  Everyone has already helped so much, but if you or anyone you know is still interested in donating, donations will continue to be accepted until later this year.  I have attached the donation instructions form, and donations may also be made at the link below.  All money donated goes directly to the Foundation.

https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1492472

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who assisted throughout this journey.  Whether you were a friend of mine before the trip, or if I contacted you during the initial planning phase, met you on the road, stayed at your firehouse, rode with you or just came across your path somewhere in the middle of the United States, I sincerely appreciate the support and kindness you extended to me on this bike tour.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the summer, and the people that I met along the way were absolutely incredible.  It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to have met so many great people willing to take care of me, as well as support their local fire department.  I found it to be very encouraging and positive, and I hope that I was able to make a positive impact on you all in some way as well.

Thank you once more.  I appreciate your willingness to support the fire service, the Foundation and firefighters everywhere through the trip.

Sincerely,

Jeff

End photo in NYC IMG_1448 IMG_1474


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Update from Wheeling, WV

Things are going well, and the trip is almost finished.  I’ve been on the road 55 days, and have just 7 more days of riding.  Everything is on track with the timeline to NYC, and I am excited to get to the east coast.

Michigan and Ohio were great stops, and I really enjoyed getting to meet with family and friends.  I think in Columbus I had the best group of riders yet – my brother Scott, nephew Ben (13), nephew Alex (8), sister Jenny and neice Carleigh (4) on the back of her bike.  We all got to visit the Genoa Township, OH fire station, and the kids enjoyed their station tour.  After that we had a fun ride on the bike trails, and Alex just loved weaving left and right, left and right.  When Scott and I got to the Columbus fire station the on-duty firefighter asked my brother “You mean to tell me you’ve been biking all across the country in chuck taylors!?”  Luckily Scott only had to go 40 miles that day, so he said “I biked from Lewis Center to Columbus in chuck taylors!”

All the firefighters thus far on the trip have been terrific.  Everyone is very helpful, and they make sure I am all set for the day’s trip when I leave the stations in the morning.  It is an incredible opportunity to get to daily see different firefighters all across the country supporting this trip and the great fire service.

Time has been sort of funny on this trip.  On one hand I feel like I just left the west yesterday, and on the other hand I feel as if I have been gone for 6 months or longer.  I have also been getting a kick out of the changing terrain across the country.  When I started the trip the corn stalks were all just about knee high – know the stalks tower over me!  A few of the leaves on the trees are falling, and pretty soon the different colors of red, yellow and orange will start shooting out.  I’m excited to see more of it as I travel.

That’s all I have tonight.  Good night.