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By Sam Alcorn
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Team Bucknell will saddle up at 5 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, for the first leg of their coast-to-coast bicycle trek to raise $1 million for scholarships.
Three generations of Bucknell alumni — ranging from the Class of 1953 to the Class of 2007 — will depart from Santa Monica, Calif., to begin a 3,050-mile journey that will cross 14 states in 19 days on one of the nation's most grueling coast-to-coast routes. The ride ends in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thursday, Sept. 27, and will be topped off by a special pre-game appearance at the Saturday, Sept. 29, Bucknell-Marist football game.
The Bucknell-Penn Alumni Bike Race Across America is a friendly competition, too. The Bucknell and University of Pennsylvania teams are vying to see who can reach the $1 million mark first.
Representing Team Bucknell in what is believed to be the first such effort to raise money for scholarship in such a manner are Walter McConnell '53, Frank Arentowicz '69, Pat O'Malley '07, and Kyle Rosendale '07. McConnell will turn 76 next month and Arentowicz will celebrate his 60th birthday en route. (See previous story.)
Three of the Bucknell riders — Arentowicz, O'Malley, and Rosendale — were on the Bucknell campus Thursday morning for a meet-and-greet and media interviews.
After months of phone calls and e-mails to plan the trip, it was the first time the three had actually met in person. And O'Malley and Rosendale said they were looking forward to meeting McConnell for the first time, too, when they arrived in California.
"Everywhere we go, people say, 'You're riding with Dr. McConnell and Frank? And their faces light up," said Rosendale. "We've heard such great stories about them."
"We're ready to go," Arentowicz said, hugging each of his riders.
Arentowicz, an avid cyclist, said each member of the team has been training especially hard in recent weeks to prepare for the trip. He, himself, is down to 175 pounds from 196. "I haven't weighed 175 since I was 15," he quipped.
He was paying close attention to the West Coast weather forecasts for the first days of the ride. Daytime temperatures were predicted to top 100 degrees, and between conversations he was still thinking about ride details: water, food, vans, tools, and spare parts.
And the hills, too. Over 19 days, the riders will face a total climb of more than 100,000 feet in elevation.
The Bucknell community can follow along with the Interactive Map that will be updated frequently with photographs. In addition to updates on the Bucknell home page, the Bucknell-Penn squad has created a special Web site that will include daily photography, video, and rider blogs.
Meet and greet
In addition, members of the Bucknell community will have the chance to meet and greet the riders at several locations across the country.
For the four Bucknell riders, the ride is all about giving back to their alma mater.
Said McConnell in a recent blog posting: "When you have spent four of the best years of your life at a University as great as Bucknell, been prepared for your life’s career as a physician, made life-long friends within and outside of your fraternity, and, best of all met your life’s companion the first week on campus, then those experiences forever bind you to and instills a desire to give back to Bucknell."
Delays starting new job
O'Malley, himself a scholarship recipient, said it was the opportunity to help raise scholarship funds — and help others — that persuaded him to delay starting his new job in Washington, D.C., to participate in the race.
"Without the financial help from Bucknell, who knows where I’d be right now," said the 2007 graduate. "It is something I’ll always be grateful for. Raising money for students in a similar situation is something I feel very strongly about."
Contact: Office of Communications
Left to right, Kyle Rosendale '07, Frank Arentowicz '69, and Pat O'Malley '07at Bucknell Thursday.
Posted Sept. 6, 2007