NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Miami-native Erick Cedeno jumped on his bicycle more than a month ago, tracing the steps of his ancestors as they fought for their freedom from slavery. Then just miles from the finish line, right here in western New York, a selfish act threatened to derail the trip, but a generous family stepped in to help Erick complete his goal.
Cedeno said, “I was at work one day and I decided how cool would it be to ride the underground railroad, to pay homage to freedom seekers.”
Cedeno strapped on his helmet, packed up as many belongings as he could and hit the road. The trek would be no routine stroll, the trip would take him from New Orleans all the way to Niagara Falls, more than 2,200 miles away. Cedeno said he is no stranger to endurance tests.
Cedeno said, “Two years ago I rode from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico along the Pacific Coast Highway, last year I decided to ride from Saint Augustine, Florida to New York City.”
He rode 10 hours every day, resting wherever and whenever he needed to, just as the slaves would have done on their journey to freedom. There were plenty of unique experiences along the way, most recently in Ohio.
Cedeno said, “I stopped at a supermarket, and long story short, I was invited to speak at Kent University at two classes, to speak about the journey.”
Just miles from the finish line, a Sunday morning stop at a Walgreens in Buffalo nearly flattened the entire endeavor. His $6,500 titanium bike was stolen. With the exception of his wallet and cell phone, all of his belongings were gone.
What Cedeno lamented the most was the loss of his camera and memory card. Fortunately, he spent the night with a host family in Niagara Falls, who lent him a bike to finish the ride. Despite the selfish act by the thief, Cedeno says he will not pursue legal action.
Cedeno said, “It’s a dream that I have for months to do this and I just want it back, I was fifteen miles from ending his journey and thats all I want, to be able to show my family and friends what I went through.”
Monday morning Cedeno flew back to his home in Miami. He also filed a report with Buffalo Police, in hopes of getting his bike and gear back.
Police say the thief is a Hispanic man in his mid- to late 20s with a thin build and black hair. Anyone with information on the crime can leave an anonymous tip by calling 847-2255.
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