When former music professor Don Lang announced his retirement from SUNY Fredonia more than a year ago, friends, and especially students, kept asking him what he was going to do once he retired. What he did was a cross-country bike ride, from San Diego, Calif., to Fredonia.
Lang will give a multimedia presentation chronicling his ride on Friday at 7 p.m. at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. Admission is by goodwill donation to benefit the Opera House.
Lang has no idea where the thought came from, but one morning in fall 2010, fresh into his retirement, he awoke with the decision to buy a good touring bicycle, then ride it around Chautauqua County for most of the fall. If he found that he enjoyed that, the plan was to ride the bike to and from the west coast of the U.S. in spring 2011. His planned journey was the subject of an OBSERVER feature by April Diodato published March 13, 2011.
Above: Don Lang as he prepared for his cross-country bike ride in 2011. At right: Lang dips the rear wheels of his bike in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, Calif., just prior to the start of his ride. Lang will give a multimedia presentation featuring photos he took along the way and tales of the various people he met and places he saw at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House on Friday at 7 p.m. Admission is by goodwill donation to benefit the Opera House.
After consulting with the Fredonia area's own biking guru, Rich Goodman, Lang learned that it would be better to ship the bike first to the west coast, then fly out to meet it there and ride it home, with the chance that the prevailing winds from west to east would support him most of the way ... wrong!
He shipped the bike to San Diego in early March, and flew out on March 30 to begin the trip. It took him only 54 days to complete the ride. Along the way, he met many good and hospitable people, and some not-so-good nor hospitable people ... it was the latter that proved fodder for the most interesting and humorous stories.
Once Lang decided to undertake this adventure, he gave serious thought to who else might be able to benefit from the experience. After getting good advice from friends, he decided to use the trip to raise money for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Through per-mile pledges and donation collections along the way, he raised more than $7,000 from the trip, all of which benefitted Roswell.
This presentation at the Opera House will be the culmination of Lang's adventure and will feature photos he took along the way and tales of the various people he met and places he saw. While he did some blogging on Facebook during the trip, this will be the only telling of the "whole" story of his journey. And in keeping in the spirit of giving that characterized Lang's ride, admission is by goodwill donation to benefit the Opera House.
Chautauqua County's only performing arts center presenting its own programming year-round, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of events is available at www.fredopera.org.