Earning merit badges on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout is a long road.
A 50-mile bike ride seems to be a good metaphor for that journey.
Anderson, a member of Troop 169 completed his ride in August, along with two other scouts and Exercise Express trainers Natasha Dailey and Scott Wagner.
The group rode the Erie Canal towpath from Chili Avenue to Brockport and back as Anderson, who has the rank of tenderfoot, could earn a badge for cycling.
Anderson, a 16-year-old at Penfield High School, trained for a month on a stationary bike as part of a spin class. “I knew (the ride) would be more intense. I’d have to pace myself.”
Anderson’s excursion was the second time Exercise Express worked with Troop 169 to help a boy scout. The troop is out of Memorial AME Zion Church on Clarissa Street and is made up of eight African Americans.
Exercise Express owner Karen Rogers and instructor Natasha Dailey are members of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which is associated with the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity to which Troop 169 scoutmaster Carlos Alvarez belongs. Alvarez said he is going to try to work with Exercise Express throughout the year to teach the teens alternatives to team sports, promote a healthy lifestyle and expose them to outdoor activities.
“It was nice to see how much fun they were having,” Dailey said.
Dailey said she taught Anderson and his friends Tyreese Harris and Simeon Alvarez how to check their bikes before starting, to make sure the seat was properly adjusted and once en route, how to safely ride on the road and how to alert walkers and cyclists on the path of their approach.
“I was very grateful,” Anderson said. “I would not be able to get the ride if it was not for her.”
Anderson said that in order for the ride to count toward his badges, it needed to be certified by an instructor. Anderson has four of the 21 badges required of an Eagle Scout.
Anderson, who said he liked to take long rides with his father and brother, had never ridden west of the city and enjoyed the scenery.
About halfway to Brockport, the group stopped for lunch. Dailey, who said she usually packs just snacks on her rides, looked on in amazement as Anderson and his friends pulled out full lunches.
“They were quite prepared, as scouts should be,” she said.
When the cyclists arrived in Brockport, they fueled up again at the ice cream parlor.
Alvarez, who has biked the route but this time drove a support vehicle in case of a rider was injured or a bike broke down, said the trip made an impression on the teens. “You could tell it was a breathtaking experience.”
He said a lot of kids haven’t ridden the canal path. “They had no clue it existed to that caliber.”