From Buffalo to New York City and Back

By Carrie DSCN0537

Nobody thought she could make it. But Ashley Smith, an 18 year old student from Fillmore, New York, braved the mountain ranges, the seemingly endless stretches of pavement and the muscle exhaustion for over 380 miles on her bike.

Ashley, with her boyfriend Matt and their friend Alex decided last summer, to bike all the way from Buffalo to New York City. Ashley is not, by any means, an experienced bike rider. “I hadn’t even been on a bike for two years!” Ashley said. But that did not stop her from completing the extremely long ride.

Including their breaks to eat and sleep,  the three rode for almost 2 weeks. They camped at campgrounds along the way, stayed with friends or stayed in hostels and spent less than $400 total. After one day of riding 60 miles, the three decided to camp at Cayuga Lake. They ended up hitchhiking the last ten miles only to be told that they had to be over 21 to camp there. They were given a break for the night, because they literally had no where to go, but were told to leave in the morning.

The longest distance they rode in one day was 80 miles to a state park where, fortunately, they were allowed to stay.

Once they made it to NYC, the three stayed at a friends house in nearby New Jersey. They intended to ride back but, unfortunately, Matt got a call from his family that his mother’s kidneys had failed and they needed to come back immediately. They bought tickets for the first train leaving the following morning.

At 7 a.m. they were at the train station in Newark, New Jersey but could not locate the train to Buffalo. They missed the train but luckily their friend’s mother agreed to drive them to Penn Station to try to beat the train there. They arrived right before the train did and made it back to Buffalo in one piece. Their bikes, unfortunately, had to say in New Jersey until their friend came to Buffalo.

Ashley’s ride was definitely one she will never forget. Despite the rough ending, she said, “I want more experiences like that in my life.”

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One response to “From Buffalo to New York City and Back

  1. Lead: 4/4 Great beginning. You pulled me in with a short tease of a sentence. Then you kept me with the long description of all she did. I love it how your sentence structure mirrors her accomplishments. That’s an advanced writer’s technique. Did you realize you were doing it?

    Interviewing/Storytelling 2/3 You do a fine job of rehashing the story. What’s missing is the drama. Partly, you might not have asked the right questions. Remember, good interviewers dig deep, look for unique moments and get at info their subject might not be ready to discuss. Here, I’d like to know more what Ashley was thinking — was she doing this to impress her boyfriend? If so, can she remember a specific instance of how she tried to do that? Was there ever a moment she wanted to give up — when her legs ached and she wanted to go home? What kept her going? Was she ever afraid? She said she wants to do have “similar experiences” in her life. Why? What did she learn or get out of it? Ask her. Ask what she means by similar. Is it the travel she loved, the thrill of not knowing what would come next, the biking, what??? Good questions lead to good answers.

    Grammar: 2 There are some little careless errors here. In the second graph, the comma should be after Alex, not after summer. Ten should be 10, 2 should be two, friend’s, you need a comma before but.

    Ashley, with her boyfriend Matt and their friend Alex decided last summer, to bike all the way from Buffalo to New York City. Ashley is not, by any means, an experienced bike rider. “I hadn’t even been on a bike for two years!” Ashley said. But that did not stop her from completing the extremely long ride.

    Watch unnecessary words. Watch bias words (fortunately, unfortunately). You are telling this from her perspective, but you don’t need to insert the bias. We get it without them.

    Omit in one piece

    I could cut this post in half and make it stronger. And I could add details to make it more compelling. For instance:

    Including their breaks to eat and sleep, the three rode for almost 2 weeks.

    They rode for almost two weeks. (we know they eat and sleep!)

    They camped at campgrounds along the way, stayed with friends or stayed in hostels and spent less than $400 total.

    They camped, stayed with friends or in hostels and spent less than $400.

    After one day of riding 60 miles, the three decided to camp at Cayuga Lake. They ended up hitchhiking the last ten miles only to be told that they had to be over 21 to camp there. They were given a break for the night, because they literally had no where to go, but were told to leave in the morning

    One day, they rode over 60 miles. Ashley’s legs ached and ….. they decided to camp at a nearby lake. They rolled in tired and … When the park manager told them they couldn’t stay because they were not yet 21, Ashley started to cry (or whatever happened. The ellipsis here represent facts to ask in the interview)

    Here’s another quick edit

    Ashley, with her boyfriend Matt and their friend Alex, biked xx miles from Buffalo to New York City.

    “I hadn’t even been on a bike for two years!” Ashley said. But that did not stop her from going.

    See how shorter is better? It gives your words more power.

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