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Darien Teen Pedals Coast to Coast

David Fitzpatrick became an expert tire changer on his cross-country bicycle trip this summer. The 16-year-old Darien resident, a junior at Brunswick School, endured 24 flat tires in a six-week, 3,040-mile journey from Savannah, Ga., to Santa Monica, Calif.

"I don't know why I was getting so many flat tires,'' David says. He incurred five flats in one day in Arkansas, six on another ride in California, going through 24 tubes and six tires. "I can do it in 10 minutes," he says of tire-changing expertise.

David and 10 other high schoolers began their trip in late June. They averaged 90 miles and 11 hours of riding daily. "The first two weeks were the hardest of my life," he says. "I was so tempted to quit."

The trip was conducted by Overland Summers , which runs outdoor excursions for children. David says the toughest part was riding through Kansas. "We were there seven days, and the scenery never changed,'' he says. But he enjoyed Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado, which is on the Continental Divide. "You feel like the trip will be downhill from there."

They had to carry all of their belongings on their bikes, but no iPods, cell phones or computers were allowed. "Music was definitely the thing that I missed the most,'' says David, who works as a disc jockey part time with his brother, Connor. "One ride we started singing lyrics from Disney songs. We were talking about the strangest things."

Midway through the ride, David decided to do the ride for charity. He selected the Waterside School in Stamford, where he works during the winter. The independent K-5 school provides rigorous academic and moral education to students regardless of circumstances. To make a tax-­deductible donation, send checks payable to Waterside School to: David Fitzpatrick, P.O .Box 2, Darien, CT 06820.

It was an exhausting, uplifting and special journey. "Once was great, but it will be a while before I might do it again,'' David says.

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