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Pedaling from Massachusetts to Martinsville
850-mile bike ride gets Chaney home
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Bennett Chaney rides his bike on the 850-mile trip from Cambridge, Mass., to Martinsville. Chaney said he always prefers riding a bike to driving a car, and that society is too dependent on motorized transportation.
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Sunday, October 7, 2012


Bulletin Accent Writer

Bennett Chaney would rather ride his bike than ride in a car.

He proved that when he rode it 850 miles from Cambridge, Mass., to the home of his parents, Gael and Smith Chaney, in Chatmoss, last month.

The trip began with a suggestion to his college friend, Adam Justice. Justice gave Chaney the motivation he needed when he said, “‘if anyone can do it, you can,’” Chaney recalled.

Since he attended Radford University from 1998 to 2003, Chaney’s main form of transportation has been his bicycle. Now, living in Cambridge, he still uses his bicycle to travel from point A to point B.

Even though he has not competed in cycling, he always tries to set a standard for himself as he rides his city’s streets by attempting to be faster than all other travelers, even cars.

Bicycling on Cambridge’s busy, crowded streets has given Chaney experience in fearlessness. That helped when he was passed by 18-wheelers and huge shipping trucks when traveling to Martinsville.

Chaney, who is 33, believes cars are “overused in every day American life.” He hopes that as bicycles become more prevalent on streets across America, people will feel compelled to try cycling.

He began preparing for the 850-mile trip to Martinsville in May by riding 20 miles every day. This regimen was in sharp contrast to Chaney’s standard travels of about 20 miles every week.

Previously, he said, the longest trip he had taken was a 60-mile ride with a Boy Scout troop around the Jamestown/Williamsburg area. He did not carry luggage then, as he did when he rode to Virginia.

His body responded to the intense training with a strained hamstring. That set Chaney back, as he had to spend most of his summer recuperating with physical therapy.

Next, Chaney rode 15 to 20 miles every night in all types of weather. That way he would be prepared for all possibilities on the long ride.

The trip to Chatmoss required that he pack camping and cooking equipment, tools for repairs and a few items of clothing, he said. He also packed several cameras and a guitar.

He also had a memento of his last training trip, from Cambridge to Providence, R.I., and back, before heading out to Martinsville. It was a small Incredible Hulk figure, which he attached to his luggage.

When the day finally came to begin his trip, Chaney said he was nervous and concerned that he was not ready yet to handle the intensity of the journey.

Chaney rode to the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y., with a friend but did the rest of the two-week trip alone. He spent nine nights camping in the wilderness and the other five in motels.

He struggled with extreme exposure to the sun while traveling through Pennsylvania. He also rode through what he described as an “intense downpour” while riding down “an extremely long and steep hill” in Connecticut.

After visiting with his family, Chaney rode back to Cambridge with his parents.

Chaney had “loads of fun” taking his journey, he said. By the time he returned to Massachusetts, he felt like he had been gone a year.

He would do it again, he said. “Even spending just a couple of days riding 50 miles and back can feel like spending a week on vacation,” he added.


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