Next weekend, Darien resident Rochelle Charnin will be lacing up her sneakers, preparing her Garmin, and packing her energy gels as she gets ready to take a 160-mile bike ride around Cape Cod.

The ride, which takes place over the weekend of Sept. 27-29, is called the 2019 Autumn Escape Bike Trek. It supports the American Lung Association and raises funds for lung disease research, advocacy, and education. The ride is expected to raise over $300,000.

Charnin is riding in honor of her late mother, Beverly Tedesco, who died in 2010 at age 62 from lung cancer.

The ride begins in Plymouth and ends in Provincetown, Mass. There will be rest stop points and snacks, as well as camps for overnight stays. Meals are provided for riders as well. About 500 riders will be participating in the event.

Charnin, along with her riding team, the Ice Breakers, is looking for donations for the ride. All donations will go to the American Lung Association. For more information, visit Charnin’s fundraising page.

The idea

Charmin is not a regular cyclist. Her path to her upcoming adventure began when she took a bike ride while on a family vacation — and greatly enjoyed it.

For spring break over the past few years, her family vacationed at Sanibel Island in Florida, on the Gulf Coast.

On her recent trip there, “my two older daughters and I went on a 10-mile bike ride. It went very well,” said Charnin, 43, who has three daughters — ages 7, 11, and 13 — with her husband David. She works as a legal program manger at a nonprofit organization in Stamford called Building One Community.

She had heard about the ride and since her daughters are now getting older and more independent, she knew she would be able to take on the training involved for it.

“I was thinking about the lung association ride and thought maybe this year is the year,” Charnin said.

Gearing up

Once Charnin returned from vacation, she took out her 15-year-old hybrid bicycle for a test ride. She rode from Darien to New Canaan on roads.

“I completely felt exhausted,” she said. “I discovered that Florida is really, really flat and Fairfield and Westchester counties aren’t, so I knew I could really use a road bike to maximize my training.”

In April, she bought a Specialized Ruby red road bike, and began taking progressively longer rides.

The team

One day in May, Charnin was at a work training meeting and an icebreaker question was asked about something in life that was exciting.

Charnin mentioned her ride and Pia Roeser, a coworker, was interested in joining her. Charnin knew a third woman — Kristin Jordan — through church.

The three Darien moms became a team, calling themselves the Ice Breakers.

“We ride together on the weekends,” Charnin said. “We start in Darien and we usually go up to Westchester County, Pound Ridge, Ridgefield, and Fairfield.”

Their first ride was 20 miles and their longest ride to date has been 60 miles.

Over the summer when the days were longer, they would start by 6 a.m. to avoid most of the traffic, but these days they start at daylight.

“It’s really peaceful to be out riding on the roads in the mornings,” she said. “We pick routes and times where there’s not as much traffic.”

She finds riding to be relaxing. “There is so much beautiful scenery in Fairfield and Westchester counties that I don’t really look at when driving in a car,” she said.

Remembering her mother

Tedesco, who lived in Lapeer, Mich., had seven grandchildren at the time of her death.

Charnin was very close to her mother and considered her to be the glue for the family.

“We spoke almost every day or every other day,” she said.

“My mom was full of life. She loved her job as a real estate broker, her friends, and was really dedicated to our family,” Charnin said. “They always felt valued and that they can count on her.”

On any given Sunday, Tedesco would make a large Sunday dinner of roasted turkey, ham, potatoes, and vegetables.

There was always many people at Tedesco’s Sunday dinners, according to Charnin.

“It was like the door was always open on Sundays,” she said.

Erasing the stigma

Charnin said she would like to erase some of the stigma around lung cancer.

“A lot of people, when they found out my mother had lung cancer, asked ‘Did she smoke?’” Charnin said.

While Charnin’s mother did smoke, Charnin said this question should not be relevant.

“It’s a really devastating disease and I don’t think anyone deserves that,” she said. “I hope that by talking about my mom and what an amazing person she was and what a fantastic life she had, I want people to understand that it’s terrible to lose anyone to this disease.”

As the big day approaches, Charnin said she’s looking forward to the “beautiful scenery,” the “great fall weather” and to thinking about her mother.

“It will just be really a way to feel connected to her,” Charnin said.

The American Lung Association

The American Lung Association works to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through research, education and advocacy.

According to the American Lung Association, in Connecticut, approximately 2,580 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. On average, 46.7 percent of women with lung cancer will be alive one year after diagnosis. With one of the lowest survival rates compared to other major cancers, early detection and treatment is key to saving lives.

For more information, visit lung.org.

sfox@darientimes.com