Firefighters cycling across the United States to commemorate 9/11 stop in Scottsdale

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The group raises money for cancer awareness among firefighters, mental health for firefighters and seriously injured veterans as they cycle 3,100 miles.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – More than a dozen active and retired firefighters travel from Los Angeles to New York City to commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11.

The group stopped in Scottsdale on Friday after covering about 450 miles of their approximately 3,100 mile trip.

A trip of 3,100 miles

A total of 15 active and retired firefighters ride their bikes on the Fire Velo Ride for America in New York City.

The group arrived in Scottsdale on Friday morning from Wickenburg. They will leave on Saturday for Payson before continuing on I-40 to the east coast.

Cyclists travel approximately 3,100 miles, with an average of about 90 to 95 miles per day.

“It could be anywhere from four to six hours, six to eight hours, depending,” said Gary Massetani, cyclist and retired deputy chief of the San Francisco fire department. “If you throw a few apartments in there, add an extra hour.”

So far, the trip from LA to Scottsdale has meant rolling in the desert sun, although the group will start very early in the morning trying to keep cool.

“It was brutal,” said Glenn Smith, retired LA County Fire cyclist and captain.

“None of us are really used to riding in 118 degree weather,” said Massetani.

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Roll into a goal

Although the journey is long and the conditions are difficult, cyclists ride with a more ambitious goal.

“We are losing so many siblings in the fire department,” Massetani said.

The group is raising funds as they travel to New York City, raising funds to educate firefighters about cancer, mental health and seriously injured veterans.

Fire Velo said the funds raised will go to charities, including the San Francisco Firefighter Cancer Prevention Foundation, the Friends of Firefighters, the Fire Family Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation.

“What we suffer on the bike is nothing compared to what they suffer from cancer,” said Massetani.

“You never really look at it the same way when someone close to you is touched by it,” Smith said. “It changes your whole perspective.”

If you want to support them in their journey, you can make a donation on their website, here.

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Perspective fuels the journey

From Scottsdale, the group will have approximately 2,600 miles to cover before arriving in New York.

“It’s like eating an elephant, one bite at a time, one pedal stroke at a time,” Smith said.

During the ride, runners will stop to pay their respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the National Flight 93 Memorial, and the Pentagon National 9/11 Memorial.

The group will arrive in New York City in time to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at Ground Zero.

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