OLD TAPPAN, N.J. — Old Tappan and Park Ridge made sure there was a sweet finish for U.S. Army veteran Devin Faulkner of California, who completed a grueling cross-country bicycle ride this week.
Faulkner, who served in Afghanistan, spent 34 days on the road from the Golden Gate Bridge to One World Trade Center to raise money for the Warrior Built Foundation and awareness about PTSD among veterans.
“I read about groups that take you out and follow you in a bus that carries your gear,” said Faulkner, 25. “I figured it would be better to make a story of my own.
“People stop and talk to me and ask me why I’m doing this,” he added. “I think everyone wants to do something like this but not everyone has the time or the money.”
Or the endurance.
For Faulkner, the first step was quitting his job at Monster Energy.
His 2015 Specialized Tarmac broke down in Nevada, 185 miles from the nearest bike repair shop.
It broke down again in Illinois.
“My bike made it to New York City but it needs help,” Faulkner said. “There are potholes everywhere and it went through the dirt, the dust, the rain, the wind — oh, the wind.”
The bottom bracket on the bike clicked for the last five days of the journey.
“You can imagine how annoying that gets,” he said. “You’re going for 12 hours a day and it clicks every time you pedal.”
But the day-to-day difficulties are part of the experience.
Faulkner, who writes the Down Shift With Devin blog and has a GoFundMe campaign , said he looked forward to some nice steaks and great relaxation Thursday night and Friday at the Old Tappan home of Joe Fasulo.
Fasulo, former borough police chief, and Faulkner’s father attended the FBI National Academy together.
In the meantime, Faulkner’s bike is getting some tender loving care, too.
Michael Grotz, owner of Cyclesport in Park Ridge, volunteered to fix, dismantle, pack up, and ship the veteran’s bike back home.
“In our own way,” he said, “we all have to repay the people who have fought for us.”
Faulkner leaves for home Saturday. He hopes to make the trip again next year.