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Valley native to circumnavigate Lake Erie

July 30, 2011
By BUBBA KAPRAL - Managing Editor , Times Leader

A Bridgeport native is poised to embark on a most ambitious mission.

Bryan Fialkowski is planning a more than 700-mile bicycle trek. The former Linsly School football and baseball star now resides in Cleveland.

Bryan will begin his massive undertaking on Aug. 13 rain or shine. He will leave his home looking to circumnavigate Lake Erie on his bike. Bryan is hoping to compete the journey in seven days, regardless of the elements.

Many wonder why someone would undertake such a mission, encompassing four states and two countries.

"I am riding to raise funds and create awareness for the Livestrong Foundation. I am also riding to challenge myself since this is the 10-year anniversary of my cross-country bike trip," Bryan said. "It is time to push myself to the limit again and why not do it on the 10-year anniversary."

Bryan knows all about pushing himself physically.

After his stellar stint at Linsly, he went on to a sparkling career in football at John Carroll University.

"After college football, I switched gears and rode cross country in support of an enrichment fund for the faculty at Linsly. We raised more than $25,000 in that ride and it was a trip of a lifetime," he said. "That was the summer of 2001. Since then, I have run some fantastic marathons, climbed some spectacular mountains (Kilimanjaro, Rainier, Hood and Gros Piton) and raced some interesting bike races.

"In 2009, I was champion of the Tour De Donut, Ohio's fastest growing bike race," Bryan continued. "I was runnerup last year, so I must redeem myself this September."

In his upcoming mission, Bryan hopes to raise $5,000, a total he has nearly realized.

He will be making the bike trip with the bare essentials. He will be traveling with a small backpack, to minimize weight while maximizing speed. He will be staying at Bed & Breakfasts and hotels along the route.

"I will be unsupported and riding solo around the pond which significantly increased the difficulty of this endeavor," Bryan noted. "I have been training since January for this trip."

Bryan, 32, is a vice president with Key Bank. His parents -- Mr. & Mrs. Bob Fialkowski --still reside in Bridgeport.

Bryan's website (www.wix.com/bryan_fialkowski/tour-of-lake-erie) provides more details on his trip, how to contact him and how to donate.

TAYLOR-MADE HONOR

IF ANYONE was ever deserving to have a field named in their behalf, it is Ben Taylor.

Benny and girls' softball are synonymous. No one has done more, cared more and knew more about the sport and its players than Benny. The Bellaire native was in a field of his own when it came to girls' softball.

Benny did more than coach the game, he lived it. He was legendary for the time he devoted to the sport, be it scheduling games, coaching games, running practice or lining up players. He was known for sleeping in his car overnight while on scouting trips or making sure his travel teams had enough motel rooms.

Benny is everything you are looking for in a coach, regardless of the sport. He cares for his players on and off the field, as he maintains connections long after their playing days.

I have been fortunate enough to call Benny a good friend for nearly all my life.

Naming Ben's Field for him is a special honor for a most special man.

BUBBA'S BITS

THE VILLAGE of Bellaire is seeking voter approval of an operating levy. I am in full support of the levy and will vote for it Tuesday. The village is making strides but more money is needed to continue the improvement. The $3 monthly utility fee has pumped more funds into the village coffers without proving much of a burden. This levy is also one that doesn't break the back of residents. The passage of the levy would help the village continue upward ascent.

NOW THAT the NFL labor dispute has been settled, the only loser looks like the city of Canton. With the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game, the city will lose millions in tourism dollars. The NFL should drop some bucks on Canton to make amends.

BRIDGEPORT MAYOR John Callarik deserves praise for anteing up $100 of his own money to catch a vandal. Callarik is adamant on catching the person(s) responsible for dumping 26 tires on Gould Park recently. Such acts are stupid and senseless. Callarik's generosity may help catch a criminal deserving of the harshest punishment possible.

MAYBE THERE is light at the tunnel -- in this case bridge -- after all. Now that an Idaho Court ruled that KDC Investments is the true owner of the Bellaire Interstate Toll Bridge, maybe the deteriorating span will be finally razed. An Aug. 8 meeting with the U.S. Coast Guard may lay the groundwork for quick demolition. I have said repeatedly that I don't think we will ever see the historic bridge come down in our lifetime. I may be eating those words in the not so-distant future.

OFFICIAL HIGH school football practice begins Monday. Prep football is a special time in the Ohio Valley. Relish everyday of it, as it will come and go all too quickly.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com

 
 

 

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