2 friends to bike along East Coast

Published July 5, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Cycle from St. Petersburg up the East Coast to Massachusetts? Are you crazy?

At first, Lynne Walder thought her good friend Caroline Sherman had lost her mind when she called with the proposal.

Walder had already decided to join Caroline and her family in their annual tradition of riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge for cancer research. The Aug. 6 journey is a 192-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, Mass.

But to ride up the East Coast to get there, that was something else entirely.

"She called in January and said, 'Let's extend the ride,' " said Walder, 43. Sherman, who lives in Brooklyn, proposed she would fly down ahead of time to make the trip with her friend.

After giving the 2,000-mile ride some thought, Walder, a real estate and probate attorney with her own practice, agreed. She set out to find sponsorships to make the experience a productive one.

The women will depart Thursday on a four-week journey.

Her major sponsors, Bank of Florida, the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast in Pinellas and Bay Life Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, along with more than 100 contributors, have donated $10,200 for the ride up the coast.

"Probably since February I've been calling people and raising money because I truly believe in the cause," Walder said.

Having lost her father, grandmother and a very dear friend to cancer, Walder committed to taking the ride with Sherman, whom she met as a child at summer camp.

The father of another close friend from camp, Pam Sidman, was suffering from complications of cancer, and she wanted to dedicate the ride to him.

Sidman's father died before Walder could tell him she was riding in his honor.

"We're all very touched and moved by the ride," said Sidman, 42, who also lives in Brooklyn.

Walder and Sidman became friends at age 8, at Camp Pembrooke in Massachusetts, where Walder is originally from. Walder moved to St. Petersburg in high school and attended Canterbury School while maintaining relationships with many of her childhood friends.

"Lynne and my father were very close, and both Red Sox fans so they got along well," Sidman said. "They kept a nice e-mail correspondence, and he appreciated that very much."

During her four-week ride, Walder will be wearing a jersey with her sponsors' logos. But on the second and last day of the challenge, she will don a special jersey in memory and honor of Mr. Sidman and her family members lost to cancer.

Walder said the ride will be a little similar to her job. "I will still be sitting all day," she said. "The only difference is the comfort of the seat."