Yes, you read that headline correctly. Glenwood cyclist, Charlie Miess, 76 years young, will take off July 29 from New York City and pedal seven days, arriving in Niagara Falls on Aug. 4. He is riding to raise money for cutting-edge research at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Charlie lost his mother to ovarian cancer when she was only 63 years old. He also lost his first wife and several others in his immediate and extended family to various forms of cancer. Happily, there are survivor stories as well among his friends and family, thanks largely to Roswell Park.
Combining his love for bike riding and his passion to help end cancer, Charlie’s goal is to raise at least $3,500 for cancer research on this—his magnum opus of bicycle riding. He’s hoping that some of you out there in reader-land will be inspired to donate on his behalf for this worthy cause. Donation information is included at the end of this article.
If you live within 20 miles of Springville, it’s likely you’ve seen Charlie out and about over the past few years. Despite being older than dirt, he dons his cycling jersey and spandex shorts (oh my!), jumps on his sporty 27-speed bike, and pedals from Glenwood to Springville every chance he gets. He generally follows a convoluted route so that he has at least 16 miles to his credit before the first stop at McDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich and coffee. After a brief flirtation with the girls behind the counter (Hi Sue, Ashley, Marcie, Lisa and Lisa) he settles down with some of the other retired regulars for a little friendly gossip.
Soon Charlie is on his way again. It might be to the end of Henrietta Road to inspect Blesy’s picturesque dairy farm (go Upstate Farms!) or down Peter’s Road to Schichtel’s Nursery to ensure they’re doing a proper job growing their trees (he thinks they are). If he feels energetic, he may even take a side trip over the hills to West Valley before returning to Springville to do a little light shopping.
If you happen to be walking down the sidewalk as he goes by, it’s quite likely that he will wave and say something like “Beautiful day, today, ain’t it?” Charlie believes that the worst insult a person can give another is to pass by without acknowledging their existence. He even extends that principle to animals. When he passes a pasture full of cows and several interrupt their grazing to give him their best impression of a bovine smile, he can’t help but respond with: “G’day ladies.” Horses get a hearty “Hi horsy.” Dogs are greeted with a “How ya doin’ Poochie?”—unless, of course, the pooch is about to sink his teeth into Charlie’s ankle. In that case, the conversation turns ugly real fast.
Some of you may have seen him only through the windshield of your car and he may have waved and mouthed a friendly “thank you” for respecting his right-of-way. Charlie tries to be considerate to motorists because he knows that a confrontation between a man on a bicycle and 2000 pounds of rolling steel can end only one way. He often wishes more bicyclists were aware of that simple fact.
If you shop at Lowes or Tops or Walmart, you may have seen him clomping around the store in his stiff-sole biking shoes while trying to look nonchalant. He always slips on a pair of baggy shorts before entering a business establishment so he doesn’t end up featured in one of those “Walmart Shoppers” photo series that you often see posted on Facebook. On occasion (rare occasions, mind you) he may stop at Cheap Chollies (Hey Kathy) for a bottled libation to be reserved for special occasions at home. With shopping done and 30 or 40 miles under his belt, he unbuckles that belt, strips off his baggy shorts, and blissfully heads back to Glenwood in form-fitting spandex.
Charlie rides because he loves bicycling and likes to stay fit. And, as mentioned earlier, he is also passionate about fighting cancer. For the past 12 years, he has participated in the Ride for Roswell providing the minimum fundraising requirement mainly from his own pocket. However, this year’s week-long ride from NYC to Niagara Falls involves a whole new level of giving and he’s hoping for some help. It’s called the Empire State Ride and is also organized by Roswell Park to raise money for cancer research. So you see, when he pedals his . . . er . . . derrière about town, it’s for the purpose of training—training to ride up to 91 miles a day on that trip across the state for the most worthy of causes.
And if that doesn’t move you, perhaps you have a soft spot in your heart for a crazy old man who’s trying to make a difference. He would be most grateful. No amount is too small.
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation on Charlie’s behalf by credit card, please go to give.roswellpark.org/goto/CharlesMiess on your computer. If you prefer to donate by check*, please make the check payable to Empire State Ride and mail to:
Empire State Ride
PO Box 644
Buffalo, NY 14240-0644
* Don’t forget to put Charlie Miess’s name on the check’s memo line.