Michael Fahey: Pedalling with a message Biking over 30,000 miles around the world to help defeat breast cancer
Holley resident Michael Fahey has bicycled around the world in honor of Ruth, his wife of 27 years, who died of breast cancer. He told of his travels, illustrated by slides, at the Clarkson Academy on April 2, sponsored by the Clarkson Historical Society.
He began cycling locally as a form of respite when Ruth was first diagnosed with breast cancer. After she died in 1995 at the age of 48, he began his world travels to stress the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
His first trip in 1996 was 3,000 miles across the United States, raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Since then, he has pedaled across Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia and China. More recent tours include Africa in 2008, Australia in 2009, and South America in 2010. His latest adventure was in 2013 when he cycled the historic Christian pilgrimage route known as The Way of St. James along the Camino de Santiago from Paris, France to Santiago, Spain. He estimates he has covered a total of 30,000 to 35,000 miles in his bike travels.
Fahey, 71, has lived on Orleans County Town Line Road in Murray for 35 years. He has three daughters. Shannon and Shari live in Minneapolis and Kathy resides in the Rochester area. His career was originally in banking and then real estate. He lists himself as an “effective cycling instructor” and “world cyclist and speaker.”
Fahey is planning to move to Fort Myers, Florida, he says, “Because of my age and to get more bicycling in year-round before I get unable to do bicycling anymore.” The sale of his Murray house is pending. This summer he will fly into Vancouver, British Columbia and cycle to Minneapolis to visit his two daughters, before heading to the new home he expects to have in Florida.
Fahey’s presentation at the Clarkson Academy was filled with vivid survival incidents including days of downpours, broken spokes and chains, his bike and luggage lost for days by the airlines, and some treacherous unexpected routes. Asked for final reflections for this story, Fahey said, “I have no regrets about bicycling, just for the reason why I had to do it. I pretty much enjoyed it even though it was a hardship in some of the countries and the routes I had to travel. But I met a lot of good people, and that’s the key.”
Fahey recently published Bicycling to Save My Soul: America, Ireland and England. He says the first chapter is about Ruth passing and the rest about his travels. The cost is $15 with one dollar going to the American Cancer Society. It can be ordered by Googling his name or title, or by emailing him directly at PROSRV95@gmail.com. Donations may be made directly to the American Cancer Society, 1400 Winton Road North, Rochester, NY 14609. Please indicate “Michael Fahey” on the memo line.
Photo by Dianne Hickerson