Gary Valerio, Fairhaven High School Class of 1972, has bicycled from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic for a few good reasons, including attending his 50th high school reunion on Friday, June 24. Along the way, he's attempting to raise $100,000 to help fight cystic fibrosis.

Joined by his fiancée, Darla Donovan, Valerio will be feeling a lot of emotions after bicycling from Long Beach, California to the Town Beach on Fairhaven's West Island.

The cross-country bike trip was something created in the mind of an adventurous Fairhaven 13-year-old boy many decades ago.

"Then life got in the way," Valerio said. "Until three years ago, when I bought a used bike from a widow of a man who rode that bike from Boston to Los Angeles. That instantly triggered my dream alive again. So both Darla and I started training a couple of years ago."

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Donovan said she was more the support part of his journey, making sure Valerio was well hydrated. Valerio did most of the riding, while Darla drove a vehicle slowly behind him with signage and hazard lights flashing.

Gary Valerio via Facebook
Gary Valerio via Facebook
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While the vast majority of people were considerate and understanding, Donovan said there was a close call when an irate trucker got out of his rig and threatened Valerio for impeding vehicles on the roadway.

"The most difficult parts were the endless hills in Missouri and Connecticut," Valerio said. "It made the ride very tough with short, steep hills," he said.

Friday, Valerio will ride through the back roads of Dighton, Rehoboth, Freetown, Assonet, Acushnet and into Fairhaven for a 5 p.m. class photo and ceremony.

"We dipped our rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean, and Friday, we'll dip the front wheel in the Atlantic," Valerio said.

Donations raised through the awareness of this bike ride go directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in honor of their niece, Libby Montigny of Fairhaven.

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