By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Bruce Reisdorf was eating at Theodore's with his brother Rod when he brought up a novel plan.
"We had hot dogs there about a year ago, and I said to Rod, "I have an idea. I want to do something kind of crazy.' He said, 'What's that?' I said, 'I want to ride my bike from my house to your house.' "
That doesn't sound crazy, until one realizes Bruce lives downstate, 450 miles from his brother's home on Grand Island.
Bruce made good on his idea Thursday when he finished his house-to-house, six-day journey on the bike to raise awareness for diabetes. He crossed the South Grand Island Bridge in the afternoon, and as he biked down Grand Island Boulevard to Bedell Road, where his brother owns Mr. Best Wrench, the crazy idea he had last year came to mind.
"And I just thought of that when I went past Theodore's," Bruce said as he took a break outside the VFW. "That's kind of where it started, was right there."
Bruce completed the trip after putting in 60 miles a day in the saddle.
"It feels wonderful," he said on Grand Island Boulevard just before completion of his journey. "It's nice to know that I had a goal and a dream. It took an awful lot of planning and a lot of time on the computer to put it all together and plan my route."
The trip, which he called Tour de Empire, leads up to his participation in the Tour de Cure, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. Reisdorf's mother succumbed to diabetes. He describes is trip on his blog, www.tourdeempire.wordpress.com.
Rod and his wife, Mary, weren't too keen on Bruce's idea when they first heard it.
"I thought he
was crazy," Rod said. "I thought he was nuts because he just had a heart
procedure six months ago or so. I said, 'Are you sure it's a good idea
because, I don't know, it seems like a long distance and a lot of stress.' "
"We were worried about him," Mary added. "I was praying for him all the way with every little pedal that he took."
"It's something I wouldn't do. I would probably drive that distance, but I sure wouldn't ride a bike that far," Rod said.
Mary said Bruce didn't enjoy smooth sailing on the trip from the Hudson River to the Niagara River.
"He had a couple days of a lot of rain" on the trip, Mary said. "One day it was funny. It rained a lot and he said, 'Well, how much wetter could I get?' And then the next day it just absolutely poured and he said, "I found out how much wetter I could get.' "
Each day on his blog he wrote about all the interesting people he met on the way, many who encouraged him.
"People shared their stories with him," Mary said. "It seemed no matter who he met, he met somebody who had a family member who had diabetes. And they thanked him for doing this."
The last leg of the trip took a little while longer than anticipated, Bruce said, when he took a wrong turn somewhere and got an assist from a Tonawanda biker. Leon, a retired cardiac surgeon, showed him a route on the right path.
"We chatted for quite a while," Bruce said. "A very nice man. Sometimes I think that things are meant to work out just right. I mean, why was he there at a time when I needed him to show me the way to go? But he was. Sometimes I think there is divine intervention."
Bruce will stay with Mary and Rod at their house until Saturday's Tour de Cure, which he's competed in for 10 years. Mary said she has set up a much-needed massage therapy session for Bruce at Grand Island Chiropractic Friday.
To support Bruce Reisdorf, visit his blog at www.tourdeempire.wordpress.com and click the "How to Donate" tab.