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Minnesota man riding the perimeter of the United States

Scott Freitag arrived in Florida and is headed around the perimeter of the United States.

Scott Freitag arrived in Florida and is headed around the perimeter of the United States.

Scott Freitag of Minnesota showed up for the 1st Annual RIDE FOR BERT (Bonita Estero Rail Trail) scheduled for November 12. He didn’t fly here. He didn’t drive his car here. He rode his bike — 4,000 miles. His goal is to continue to ride the perimeter of the U.S. for 11,000 miles as a fundraiser for two charities and to raise awareness.

“His body has held up really well even though he’s still in treatment for prostate cancer — that’s pretty extraordinary,” said his wife, Katy. “When he was going to chemotherapy and he lost his son Benny, who committed suicide from schizophrenia, he had a lot of time thinking and praying and after considering it, he said ‘I want to do this.’”

“This is a dream I’ve always had,” said Scott, “and now’s the time to do it while I have the opportunity, but I also want to honor my life and Benny’s life by raising awareness and funds for prostate cancer and schizophrenia.”

Scott shared some of the challenges he experienced so far, weather being one of the main ones. “When we were coming closer to the east coast going through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, they got a lot of rain up there and …I got soaked to the bone several times,” he said.

Scott and Katy Freitag at the first Ride for Bert

Scott and Katy Freitag at the first Ride for Bert

Katy met up with Scott at the end of each day towing a camper. “It’s a little bit unnerving when it’s torrential rain falling and he’s going down some very steep inclines. That was scary,” she said.

Some of the routing with GPS had him going on really bad roads. Some were not passable. He had to walk in several spots due to flat tires and truck problems. “It was difficult” he said. “We had some problems with our camper, the awning collapsed.”

They met people they knew along the way and friends from home in Minnesota connected them with people on his route. Some were able to bike with Scott which was “terrific.” His friend Steve Gunther is Friends of BERT treasurer and board member and suggested he stop for some bike maintenance and a ride with the BERT event. Scott was able to speak to the many locals at the event which had drawn 250 riders.

Katy described herself as Scott’s support. “I’m also his sag support (cycling support and gear) when necessary, setting up the camper, doing all his meals and grocery shopping, finding the route and then I work supporting us because all the money we raise is going to the two charities we’re supporting.” Katy is an attorney.

“It’s very rare for somebody to do the perimeter versus somebody going across the county. Even if it’s somebody that’s healthy, it’s unbelievable,” said Katy, “but somebody in treatment for prostate cancer, I’m married to him and I still find it inspiring and amazing.”

“The more people learn of this,” said Katy, “I think that the more there’ll be early detection and save some lives from prostate cancer.” Click the button to donate on their website milesformoney.org

Scott has to go back in January and March for treatment for his stage-four cancer. The whole trip is taking a year.

Scott and his wife were headed west in November to California. As he says, “Go west, young man.”

Update on BERT

The city of Bonita Springs and the Village of Estero and the Lee County MPO unanimously approved the proposed trail several months ago.

“The first thing that has to happen is that we get a negotiated deal so the county can purchase the rail corridor,” said President Deb Orton of Friends of BERT. The Trust for Public Lands is doing the negotiations with Seminole Gulf Railway on behalf of the county. The beautiful rail corridor will enable a 15-mile trail by 130 feet wide. As many as 21 local communities are very much in favor of the trail. “Friends of BERT and the community support, that’s what’s driving this forward,” said Orton.

What Friends of BERT is working on and promoting is what’s called Connect Lee, according to Orton. BERT will fill in the big gap here so when BERT gets put into place, it connects to the John Yarbrough Linear Park Trail which is being developed all the way up to the Lee and Charlotte County line. So Lee County will have 42 miles of trails away from the traffic and not on any busy roads.

July 1, Senate bill 106 was passed that was put forward by Sen. Passidomo and signed by the governor. It doubled the amount for the SUN Trail Network budget. The $25 million dollars a year to construct the trails has now doubled to $50 million dollars a year.