St. Augustine FL— 9 year-old CJ Burford recently completed his cross country bike ride for charity, on schedule. CJ began his trip on Labor Day by dipping the front wheel of his bicycle in the Pacific Ocean near the Oceanside Pier before heading for St. Augustine Florida. [Original story here]
CJ completed his journey at the St. Johns County Pier in St. Augustine Beach on Saturday November 22nd. The family is now home at their house in North Carolina and “trying to get back to a mostly regular routine preparing for Christmas” said CJ’s mother Katie.
CJ rode 2703 miles and raised over $20,000 of his goal of $100,000 “We hope that people will continue to give” Katie said. The giving link for The National Children’s Cancer Society will be open on the loveFAR website (www.lovefar.org) through February.
CJ seemed to develop a penchant for road kill during the ride. “He collected random stuff along the way including antlers, rattle from rattle snakes, tail of a red tail fox, a tarantula, etc” continued Katie. “We were all amazed by how drastically the land can change in just a 30 mile ride. The desert in California, the mountains in Arizona, the cactus in New Mexico, the rolling hills in Texas, the beaches along the Gulf coast and the farmland in Florida were all things that awed us, but the people who we met along the way made these places even more awesome.”
The family saw areas of the country that were devastated by hurricane Katrina. “It was amazing that so many things are still ruined. CJ was not even a year old when that storm happened. We saw the foundations from many houses that have never been rebuilt, many places that are newer constructions that have been built since Katrina, and many places that had to be completely gutted out and redone because of the damage.” wrote CJ’s sister Kenadi in the LoveFar blog.
The family used the Southern Tier Adventure Cycling Route to cross the United States. Unfortunately, some of those roads were not bike friendly nor were the drivers. They did receive police escorts in areas that were not safe to ride such as long bridges in the South.
Kenadi recalled an instance where 9-1-1 had to be called due to a road raging driver:
“We got lots of horns and “you’re #1 signs” even though we were riding single file on the shoulder!
One dually pickup truck hauling a big trailer and bobcat buzzed us within 12″ of Craig’s (Dad) elbow screaming and gesturing out of his window. After he passed he went up about a mile pulled over
and waited on us to get there, then when we passed he got out of his truck and cussed and fussed some more.
It took all of Craig’s (Dad) self control not to engage him, but a fight would have just made things worse. After we passed he got back in his truck and followed behind the bus VERY closely revving his engine and blowing his horn even though he could have easily passed. He was just trying to harass us. Katie ending up calling 911. While she was on the phone with a local deputy the man passed around us in the GRASS and blew a huge puff of black smoke on us as he did. It was just crazy! We stopped and took a long break giving the sheriff time to track the guy down and letting him have time to cool down and leave if he was sitting up the road waiting on us again. It was only about a 20 mile stretch where we seemed to have negativity. Later in the day the roads got nicer and the people did too.”
From time to time CJ would have company as he rode. He was joined by individuals along with cycling clubs from across the country. It wasn’t just the company that was enjoyable, the locals were able to point out things of interest along the route. The family used the cross-country trek as a hands on geography and history lesson. They toured the Alamo, New Orleans and explored many historic places along the Gulf Coast including the fort in St. Augustine.
Close to 45 riders, including a young cancer survivor, and the local mayors of Pass Christian and Long Beach, Mississippi joined CJ for a portion of the ride.
Police were there to escort them down Highway 90 “Several local businesses had folks gathered outside to cheer for us, which was so cool! The Beau Rivage Casino really went all out and put “Way to Go, CJ!” on their huge lighted marque and they had probably 50 people out front with signs cheering. It was a shock and a real treat for CJ! The Biloxi Fire Department had a ladder truck pulled out to the road with ladders lifted and a large American flag hanging over us as we rode by. It was truly as amazing 23 miles” said Kenadi.
What’s up next for CJ? “He is excited about the possibility of speaking to bike clubs and church group around the area as well as maybe getting to go on a national talk show.” said Katie. Once all donations have come in and this fundraiser is finalized a final total will be posted on loveFAR’s website [Link] and on Cj’s Rides For A Reason facebook page.