By Nikki Garret Metzger
High Desert Daily
(Hesperia)– The new fire station in Hesperia was host to some special guests on Sunday. Chris Rupp, a firefighter from Wisconsin and Los Angeles Firefighter Jason Teter pedaled into the station for their latest stop on their Fire Ride: Tribute 2011.
Fire Ride: Tribute 2011 is a bike ride across the United States to honor the memory of fallen firefighters, especially those that made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11th, 2001. It started on July 18th in San Francisco, and the plan is to ride more than 4,000 miles to New York.
Rupp posted on his website, “With the help and support of many organizations and departments across the country, our goal is to share the word about the various organizations that honor those who gave their lives to save the lives of strangers. We are working closely with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. We are using the bike ride to generate a means to share with people from all walks of life, a place where they can show their support to these fallen heroes. We will be sharing the work that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation does, and how they support our loved ones if we ever need to answer with our life.”
Rupp explained how he got the idea, “I got the idea after my Chief, Chuck Hinsel, passed away in February 2010. He was HUGE into giving back to the community. So when he passed away I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
“Initially my idea was to inline skate across the country. I do speed skating; actually I’m on the U.S. Speed Skating Team. So I was going to inline skate across the country. But then I realized that would take six months. So that’s when it morphed into biking.”
Rupp trained every day to prepare for the trek. “Since I decided that this was what I wanted to do, I started biking 20, 30, 40 miles a day. Then slowly I bumped it up to 90, then 120 miles per day over about a year and a half.”
The ride is very vigorous. By Sunday Rupp had traveled from San Francisco down to Los Angeles where Teter joined the ride, then up to Hesperia coming across highway 138. “So far it’s been going super well. Today is the worst that I’ve felt since the ride began. I started in San Francisco and then rode south to avoid the Sierra Nevadas. So I took the heat instead of the mountains. I don’t like climbing. It’s really hard to climb when you have the duffel bag on the back,” said Rupp.
Rupp has been greeted by open doors, offers of support and even donations all along the way. “Every fire department has been great. Every department I’ve contacted has said yes,” Rupp said. “The fire service is such a big family. Here at the Hesperia station, I’ve never met these guys before and as soon as I walked in they greeted me with ‘Great to have you here, thanks so much.’ They shook my hand and cooked us a great dinner. Every dept has been like that,” Rupp explained.
“It’s amazing how people take care of you in the fire service, everyone is willing to go above and beyond and help out in any shape or form. That’s very unique to the fire service and I want people to see that.”
From Hesperia Rupp and Teter were traveling to Baker, then to Las Vegas, then on to Mesquite, Nevada. “Then we cut into Utah and the temperature drops 40 degrees. But getting to Utah will not be pretty – 4 days of 100+ temperatures and 100+ mile days,” explained Rupp.
The duo will travel through Rupp’s hometown in Wisconsin on August 22nd, then continue on the 1200-1300 miles to New York. They will meet up with the group from Ride for 9-11 out of Los Angeles when they get to Chicago, then they will ride together into New York City. The Ride for 9-11 group is made up of Los Angeles city and county firefighters, along with those from other Southern California stations who voluntarily chose to ride cross-country to raise money for charity and to honor the firefighters who died in the attacks of Sept. 11th.
Follow Chris Rupp and Jason Teter on the website www.fireridetribute.com. The schedule of cities is there along with Rupp’s journal, photos, and links to connect with Fire Ride: Tribute 2011 on Facebook and Twitter. They also have information on the site about how anyone can join Rupp and Teter on their ride across the U.S.