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AU classmates start off on long-distance cycle trip of their lives
6/07/10

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair or the future of the human race.”
— H.G. Wells

ALFRED, NY, June 2010 — It’s likely to be the trip of their lives. Three Alfred University classmates are this week on the way to their 52nd and 50th reunions on campus by way of — bicycles.

Roger Eiss ’58 from Ridgefield, WA; Andy Seaman ’58, Palm Coast, FL; and Jack Heims ’60, Bernicia, CA, are pedaling 300 miles to Alfred; they began Sunday, June 6 in Newburgh, NY.

The trio met up Saturday for lunch and a tour of Linda Rahl Nadas’ ’58 studio in nearby Washingtonville. Linda, Andy, and Roger not only graduated from AU in 1958, they also shared the same classes in Washingtonville from second to fourth grade. Joining the group for the day was Warren Mintz ’58 and Robert Gropper ’83, aka “Bobby Salsa,” who was on hand with samples of his award-winning salsa for all. Later in the day, the bikers and entourage toured a local winery. Seaman and Heims are accompanied by Fran Seaman and Mimi Heim, respectively, in the “support” vehicles.

The bikers (and their cars and drivers) are following NYS Bike Route 17, which goes from Newburgh/Beacon to Lake Erie, passing through Alfred Station. They have received advice about amenities, sights, etc. along their route from Erf Porter ’57, Kelly French ’07, Dick Bauer ’58, Harrie Stevens ’65, and the biking community of the Binghamton area. Ed Law ’58 is a sponsor of the trip and plans to join the bikers in downtown Alfred as they finish the trip. ??

The first leg of the “Tour de Alfred,” as it’s fondly being called by those involved, was to stretch some 40 miles to Port Jervis. The guys expected Monday (June 7) to be the toughest day; they planned 65 miles to French Woods, near Hancock. This includes by far the longest climb of the trip. Erf arranged dinner for day two.

On Tuesday, June 8, the group intends to pedal another 65 miles from French Woods to Johnson City, passing through Binghamton. They expect the day will offer a number of challenges, including long mileage, plenty of hills, and biking through a metropolitan area.

On Wednesday, the contingent plans to move along a flat 60 miles to Elmira. Harrie will accompany the group to dinner that evening.

Thursday the adventurists leave for a 60-mile ride to Hornell. That evening they will be joined by some 21 AU alumni and friend including many from the class of 1968; Ed (Law) and his wife; Jack’s friend Bob Goldstein, AU class of ’60, and their wives.
The grand arrival day is Friday. The bikers will travel towards Alfred where at around 4 p.m. they will meet up with a number of current Alfred University faculty and staff at the top of Beacon Hill (west end of the Almond Reservoir) joining in for the last leg of the trip. Next will be a quick stop at The Bicycle Man Shop in Alfred Station.

“The shop is owned by Peter Stull, son of John Stull, a graduate student during our years at Alfred and a career physics professor at AU,” said Roger. “I last saw Peter when he was about 3 years old!”

“Ed Law will join us in downtown Alfred to finish the final few hundred meters of the trip with us on the only bicycle he has ever owned. Bill Dick ’58 and Joe Stein ’58 are also helping to organize a welcome and follow-up events.

“Andy and I (along with Elliott Lasky and Russ Fahey) had a great time on the bike trip to the 50th reunion of the Class of 1958, in 2008,” said Roger. “I haven't been on a bike outdoors since the 1958 Reunion bike ride. I was planning to get out a few days in the weeks leading up to the bike ride and took my bike to the bike shop for a tune-up, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Every day since May 15 we had measurable rainfall levels in the Portland OR metropolitan area, over 6 inches one day.

“I ride my exercise bike in my garage an hour a day for at least three, usually four days a week. I do it at the highest level of difficulty available. It’s equivalent to climbing a hill — perhaps a 3 percent grade — for the entire hour. I’m soaking wet when it’s over. I find this gets me in great condition for an outdoor bike trip.

“I’ve never had a problem making the transition. It only takes me an hour a day, and I can read and listen to music while I do it. On the 2008 bike trip, Russ and Andy, both athletes in college while I was a couch potato, called me Iron Man because I could (almost) keep up with them all along the way.”

This is not the longest bike ride Roger has taken.
“My wife is French. I have a bike in France, and I bike a lot there (usually with nephews half my age). France is better set up for biking than the United States. Its road network has many small paved roads throughout the countryside that only have a car pass every 15 minutes or so. I have biked in Normandy, Brittany, Alsace, the Cevenne mountains, and the south of France down to the Pyrenees Mountains.

“We’re hoping the state-sponsored bike route for our “Tour de Alfred” will provide lots of bike lanes and drivers used to sharing the road with bikers. We rode Bike Route 17 from Binghamton to Waverly in 2008 and it was very nice.”

Jack learned about the plan for a bike ride to Reunion from the Alfred University Alumni Office.
“I started biking on a spinning bike in January and continued until the weather broke in February. I was able to bike in Palm Springs for a week at the end of January; that really hooked me. Most recently I’ve gone out at least three days a week and ride 10-40 miles a day. My wife Mimi joined me and found the exercise less stressful on her body than her usual routine in the gym. In just a matter of weeks she was biking 10 miles.

“This is by far the longest trip I have ever attempted,” said Jack. “About 30 years ago I biked about 28 miles and thought that was a lot. However, today’s bikes are manufactured with lighter materials and gears are so much better than yesteryear. Living in California also allows me the luxury to train outdoors at least 10 months out of the year.”

“Roger and I with a couple of others did a bike ride from the Philly area to Alfred in 2008 to celebrate our 50th College Reunion,” said Andy. “The distance, I believe, was similar, approximately 300 miles. So, Roger thought it might be a good idea to do another ride, but from the Newburgh area. Both Roger and I spent a couple of years in grade school at Washingtonville Central School. And, that's where he got the idea to start our ride from that area.

“To be honest, I did not do much biking after the 2008 ride; perhaps 100 miles until a couple months ago when I said to myself ‘self, you better start riding your bike.’ So, a couple of months ago I started. Initially, between trips, I was riding about 20 miles a week. In the last four weeks I’ve ridden anywhere from 50- 55 miles/week. Needless to say, I’m getting a little tired but feel good that I’m back on the bike; it’s great for relaxation/destressing. I do plan to continue now that I’m halfway in shape.
“To be fair, I haven’t been a couch potato. Both my wife ad I go to the gym regularly where I spend a lot of time on the elliptical machine. So, I did not exactly start from scratch.

“This ride and the one in 2008 are the longest rides I have done. However, in past years I’ve done a reasonable amount of riding. I have participated in 100-mile rides/races and several Florida Senior Games cycling events.”