We did it! In April I posted about my Colgate University class’s campaign to raise $50,000 to endow a scholarship in honor of our classmate, Dr. Tonya Gscheidle Henderson ’98. I asked for your support, pledging in turn to ride my bike 113 miles.
Not only did I raise more than my $1300 goal, as a whole we have raised over $52,000. In June the fund became an official endowed scholarship. It will have its first recipient this fall.
Thank you. Whether you shared social media posts, donated financially, or sent positive thoughts, your support made this happen. My classmates and I are incredibly grateful.
On Thursday morning, Tonya’s 45th birthday, I started my ride in Schenectady. It was the best weather the east coast had seen in a month; I don’t know how I pulled that off. My biking buddy, Susan, joined me for the first 25 miles, which made that portion go by quickly. We took the Erie Canal path. With all the rain we have had lately, the water was crashing through the locks.
The Sprakers Reformed Church offers their building as a “comfort station.” I was grateful for the clean restroom and the bottled water.
I saw a variety of animals along the trail: three deer, two groundhogs, a small snake, a turkey, a handful of rabbits, and while going by a farm, some really big pigs.
The biggest obstacle occurred around Herkimer. I knew there was a chance part of the trail would be unpaved. Indeed there was. Without warning, the surface changed from pavement to stone dust. This is a step above sand, and not something you really want to ride on with skinny road bike tires. I was looking forward to my next turn, but when I glanced to see where I was supposed to go, all that was in view was a muddy hill. Without a mountain bike and/or hiking boots, there was no way I was tackling that. The turn was supposed to be a short cut. Even though I was afraid continuing straight would add a few miles, that was clearly the better option. Miraculously, it didn’t add any significant mileage.
When I initially planned the ride, I was going to get off the canal trail around Ilion. I later adjusted that, deciding to continue on to Utica. From there it would be local roads. It was therefore a big deal as I approached the city line. There were some nice areas of the city. This, however, was not one of them.
I was slowing down at this point. I was tired, a little sore, low on water, and had reached the uphill portion of the program. I invited my father, also a Colgate alum, to join me for the last 13 miles. I was running late, so he met me at the 97 mile mark. After having ridden 72 miles alone, it was incredibly comforting to see him. Our paces are different enough that we didn’t really ride together for those final 16 miles. But between knowing he was there, and being on the home stretch, I got enough of a second wind to power through.
By the time I reached Lake Moraine Road, I was on autopilot. I could see the campus from afar, and felt at home.
Nine hours after departing, I reached 113.8 miles as I coasted along the pathway to East Hall. Darcie Leach Loveless ’98, Associate Director of Stewardship, greeted me with a huge smile and a hug. She brought swag, and I felt like I was on the Tour de France podium.
Somehow, despite the fatigue and sore muscles, the experience was amazing.
My camera only has four hours of battery life, so I couldn’t record the entire ride. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to watch that much anyway! There are three options below: short, medium, and long. I recommend watching these with the sound off. Most of what you hear is the camera rattling.
Oak Drive to East Hall (5:26)
Colgate Inn to East Hall (8:54)