All roads lead to Suffolk

Published 9:17 pm Monday, July 23, 2012

With the multitude of major routes criss-crossing Suffolk and its position relatively close to the coast, the city’s motorists have seen their share of walkers, runners, bicyclists and horse riders attempting to traverse any number of distances for any number of good causes.

The city is a frequent way station on these journeys, which us writers here at the Suffolk News-Herald try to cover whenever we hear of them in advance or just happen to spot them as they make their way through. In the past, we’ve encountered a walker for diabetes and a couple riding a tandem bicycle for Lou Gehrig’s disease, among several others.

On Friday, I happened to stumble across a pair of friends who are attempting to bike from Key West to Niagara Falls. They walked into the Whaleyville General Store — cycling shoes, full-body, neon Spandex suits and all — while I was there doing a story on the store closing.

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After telling me about their mission — to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project — Nate Frankoski and Mike Buonaiuto shopped around a little bit, trying to help out the closing store with its own mission of getting rid of its inventory. Mike bought some antique raisin tins to send to his mother, whom he said “loves antique stuff.” The two were even treated to free Coca-Colas by owner Debbie Broadbent.

Lastly, they took a lesson on the correct pronunciation of some local words — Ahoskie, Whaleyville, Suffolk and Norfolk — from Broadbent and me before packing up their purchases, inquiring about the best restaurants in downtown Suffolk and their location in relation to the post office, and starting on their way again, even telling me they would race me to downtown.

It wasn’t until Saturday, when they were supposed to already be in Norfolk, that I began to wonder how they got to Norfolk from Suffolk on bicycles, considering that every route between the two includes an interstate or highway where cyclists aren’t allowed. I guess they made it anyhow.

Suffolk has been privileged these last few years to have such a steady stream of fundraisers visiting the city, bringing it notoriety in other parts of the world through their blogs and spending money with local businesses. It’s a sure bet that the visitors, too, have felt themselves privileged to have passed through.