Para-cycling is one tough sport but retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Freddie De Los Santos of Hopewell Junction, NY makes it looks easy, even in unrelenting rain.
“I train between 45-75 miles everyday (on the Dutchess Rail Trail),” said De Los Santos. “It’s my job.”
De Los Santos’s shirt said it all: (proudly) part of the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Cycling National Team.
The amazing cyclist was just a blur when we first saw him whiz past us in the opposite direction, way back in the Town of Lloyd at the Tony Williams Park.
And, now, 90 minutes later, here he was, already home from a humid, 50-mile loop, barely a bead of sweat on his brow, and about to toss his recumbent bike in his car. All the while missing a leg, mind you.
Besides being inspired by De Los Santos, other surprises awaited us including a tour of the restored 1873 Hopewell Junction train station, now a museum.
“The intersection of two railroads at this very spot literally built the town in 1873,” said our volunteer curator.
The curator insisted we come inside and see the exhibits, from a telegraphy room to a ticket and freight office to an area with over 500 items on display. From lanterns to Bordens Milk bottles to antique Summit Oak heating stove, something impressive awaited us in every room.
Inevitably, the clouds busted open on our return trip home. Super drenched, we raced across the Walkway over the Hudson without a single pedestrian to dodge. Normally, the bridge is slammed with visitors but buckets of warm rain pelted the concrete and low-lying fog destroyed visibility so we were thankful that the gates were even open.
Approaching the finish line, something very random happened: a dead tree fell onto the rail trail directly in front of us, literally within seconds of us traveling under.
We thanked George’s celestial birthday guardians for watching over us as we stopped to clear random branches so we could pass.