Massena grad to bike from Maine for 35th class reunion

SUBMITTED PHOTOCheryl Drda and John Brooking will bicycle 300 miles from Portland, Maine, to Massena for Mr. Brooking’s 35th class reunion. The trip will raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Massena.

MASSENA — A 1984 graduate of Massena Central High School will be returning to Massena this month for his 35th class reunion.

But the trip from his home in Portland, Maine, to Massena will take a few days because John Brooking plans to pedal the 300 miles on his bicycle, along with his riding partner, Cheryl Drda. At the same time, the bicycle journey will be raising money for the Boys and Girls Club of Massena.

Since 2002, Mr. Brooking has commuted by bicycle to his computer job about 5 miles each way, year-round. He also bicycles for other transportation whenever possible, averaging about 3,300 miles annually.

“I’ve been commuting to work by bike for about 17 years now. I use it for transportation as much as I can. I end up putting 3,000 miles on the bike each year,” he said. “After our last reunion, I got to thinking the nice thing about biking is you can do it at any age. I thought, ‘I should bike to my reunion. Wouldn’t that be cool?’”

Then came the idea to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club as part of his bicycling trip to Massena.

“I can give back to Massena and make the trip more relevant,” he said.

Mr. Brooking and Ms. Drda plan to set out the morning of July 15 and arrive in Massena the afternoon of July 19, riding an average of 60 miles per day, “as long as there are no major problems along the way that would delay us.” The class reunion starts the night they arrive in Massena.

Their tentative schedule has them leaving Burlington, Vt., for Chateaugay on July 18. That portion of the ride will begin with a 3-mile-long bicycle/pedestrian causeway along the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, with a bicycle ferry taking them across a 500-foot break in the causeway for boat traffic. From there, they’ll catch the regular ferry from Grand Isle to Plattsburgh. The final day of riding will take them from Chateaugay to Massena.

Although Mr. Brooking bicycles regularly, including as an active member of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, this will be his longest journey.

“I’ve done one Century Ride, 100 miles in a day,” he said.

Ms. Drda, who was born and raised in the Chicago area, became a competitive cyclist while attending the University of Florida. She moved to Maine in 2010 after obtaining her master’s degree and board certification as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She continues to cycle and participate in events in Maine, including several Century Rides, and is also an active member of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

Contributions to the fundraising ride can be made through Mr. Brooking’s GoFundMe page at wdt.me/biketrip.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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