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St. Paul’s School cyclists don’t tire easily

Eight cyclists from St. Paul’s School, along with as many as 50 other participants, were scheduled to hug the shoulder along Route 4 east this morning, concluding a 3,500-mile trip that began seven weeks ago to raise money for those who have been hurt fighting for our country.

The elite eight, all seniors when the semester starts this fall, represent Ride 2 Recovery, a nonprofit that benefits physically and mentally disabled veterans. They began their journey in Oregon on June 10, dipping their back wheels into the Pacific Ocean, and planned to leave early this morning from St. Paul’s for the 60-mile ride to Hampton Beach, where they planned to dip their front tires into the Atlantic.

Dozens of other riders – friends, family and former veterans – were scheduled to join the students this morning on their trip from Concord, hooking up with a group affiliated with Ride 2 Recovery, Honor Ride, in Lee before moving to the beach.

Thanks to donations, the stated fundraising goal of $100,000 was surpassed weeks before the group left, with the current total at $160,000 as of early last night.

The eight students are Max Vivado of Bedford; Mandi Paine of Moultonboro; Jackson Gates of Cambridge, Mass.; Lily Bogle of Bronxville, N.Y.; Lucy Bostwick of New Canaan, Conn.; Charlie Thompson and Alex Tabet, both of New York City; and Phiravit Phataraprasit of Bangkok, Thailand.

Their path moved from Oregon to Idaho, then included Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada, Niagara Falls and upstate New York, Vermont and, finally, Concord and St. Paul’s School.

Vivado served as spokesman for the team yesterday. He said the ride, for the most part, was smooth, although there were some delays.

“Flat tires was the main issue,” Vivado said. “Running into gravel and sharp objects on the road, and there were a few crashes here or there on the road. Sometimes we bumped into one another. If you hit tires you fall; it’s inevitable. Knock on wood, there’s just one more day left, and no one has been seriously hurt. Just some scrapes and bruises.”

People throughout the country, from private individuals to church officials to friends of the cyclists, opened their doors and hearts, providing food and lodging along the way. The route was carefully mapped ahead of time, with stopovers arranged via emails, and hotels and motels used as a last resort.

“In the majority of the country we’ve seen, everyone has been very caring and nice,” Vivado said. “People have been interested in what we’re doing. They stop in the road and ask where we’re biking to, where we’re from, what our cause is.”

Vivado recounted the highlights he experienced, starting with the starting point, Netarts, Ore. “My first big deal was seeing Oregon itself,” Vivado said. “It was my first time out west in my life, and I saw Oregon to be amazing, from the beaches to the high deserts to the forests, all of which were really beautiful.”

Vivado also mentioned the long, steep climb up Grand Teton in Jackson Hole, Wyo., calling the ride “a big sense of accomplishment. It was amazing, the hardest climb of the trip.”

But with all the territory covered, all the mountains and valleys and cities and landmarks, Vivado said the final leg of the trip, this week, hit him the hardest, when he and his group pedaled the 92 miles from Caroga Lake, N.Y., to Dorset, Vt., then from Dorset to Keene, an additional 67 miles.

“My most personal sense of accomplishment and the biggest highlight was crossing back into Vermont and New Hampshire, back into upper New England,” Vivano said. “I’ve lived here most of my life, and just finally knowing where I was again and seeing things I’ve seen before and realizing how far we’ve come from the west and knowing I’m almost there, that was it.

“We were in Vermont three days ago and finally back to the big hills, the Green Mountains and all the pine trees.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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