UPPER WEST SIDE — It took them 45 days through blistering heat and torrential downpours to bike from Los Angeles to New York.
Ten Los Angeles area firefighters who bicycled cross-country to honor 9/11 first responders and to raise money for those currently serving in the department finished their epic journey Friday afternoon, arriving at the Firemen's Memorial on West 100th Street and Riverside Drive, cheered on by close to 100 family, friends and FDNY waiting at the finish line.
"It's been an incredible journey," said Jorge Ostrosky, 54, who made the entire journey. "It's been a big sacrifice. We've been away from our families."
Still Ostrosky said it was nothing compared to the sacrifice of those who risked their lives on 9/11.
Six of the riders made the full trip, while four completed half the journey, and a few extra cyclists met them in Philadelphia for the final leg of the trip.
The firefighters, who averaged 100 miles a day, made stops along the way in major cities, raising money for two charities: The Leary Firefighters Foundation, founded by Denis Leary, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Leary Foundation will use the proceeds for their Respirator Project, which provides breathing apparatuses to firefighters for cleaning up after fires where they are exposed to noxious fumes, a spokeswoman for the foundation said.
Several FDNY brigades, including Engine 47 from Morningside Heights, welcomed the riders.
"We really appreciate it," said Capt. Bill Carol. "We're here today to show our support."
For those making the journey it was about those who were not around to make the trip.
Ostrosky carried the picture of 53-year-old Berry Berenson Perkins, who was on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. She was on her way from Boston to Los Angeles to visit a friend of Ostrosky's.
"I've never gotten over losing Berry," said his friend, Sarah, 53, who was waiting at the memorial for Ostrosky. "I'm hoping in this way I can keep her in my heart, and move on with my life."