July 2019 - ATHLETE PROFILE
Hometown: Newark, N.J.
Family: Wife, Kathy; Sons, John III (26), Anthony (23)
Sport: Endurance Cycling
Occupation: Director of Adirondack Ultra Cycling, and owner of Adirondack Ultra Cycling Bicycle Shop, Schuylerville
Favorite Quote: Get in the zone and just ride
By Skip Holmes
It is 4am and you have just signed up for a 400-mile ride from Schuylerville to Montreal, Que. and back. Two 200-mile days with a day to rest in between. This is John Ceceri’s idea of an adventure! This trip just is one of the many events that John organizes and competes in. That’s right, there is a minimum time to complete this event as well a maximum time.
John grew up in Newark, N.J. and started cycling in his 20s. He then moved to New York City and joined two cycling clubs in the early 1980s. He decided to do a MS Bike Tour that was held in Central Park and did 90 miles for that day. He then quickly signed up for a 100-mile century ride that went from NYC to the outer reaches of Long Island. John became hooked on long distance cycling. Soon after he became a ride leader for the American Youth Hostel organization. He then started doing the ride from NYC to Washington, DC, a 250-mile event that had to be completed in 24 hours. John completed this ride three or four times and it was one of his favorites!
John did the Five Boro Bike Tour in 1982, then passed the AYH leadership class that fall, then in 1983 became the lead ride marshal for the Five Boro Bike Tour for several years – even after moving upstate. He also helped in 2002, which was held eight months after the World Trade Center attacks. John continued, “The tour starts near the WTC so it was quite emotional and security was heavy, especially on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, just before finishing at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island.”
Apparently riding 100 or 200 miles a day soon become insufficient. He then decided to try to qualify for the Race Across America (RAAM). He signed up for the qualifying event that was to start outside Los Angeles, Calif., and go the distance, a mere 750 miles. John finished the ride but unfortunately didn’t meet the cutoff time to qualify. Not to be deterred, he then signed up the following year and made another attempt to qualify, but became sick during the ride and had to abandon.
It is hard to imagine the discipline necessary to train for events like this much less the lifestyle that accompanies those that are engaged in this endurance sport. Back in the 1980s, John was living in NYC, which was not the most hospitable place to bike. He supported himself with a variety of jobs, including doing apartment renovations with a flexible work schedule, that allowed him to have sufficient training time.
After a number of years of living in NYC, he and his then girlfriend Kathy decided to get married. She was already working in Johnstown during the week and coming back to NYC on weekends. So, they packed up their belongings and moved to Johnstown in Fulton County. They later moved to the Saratoga Springs area, before finally settling in Schuylerville. In the mid-1990s, John started his own bike shop and ran it for six years. Running a bicycle shop is a dream occupation for a cyclist, but it usually means less riding. John still managed to ride a couple of centuries a year, while running the bike shop, and he and Kathy raised their two sons.
In 2007, John started Adirondack Ultra Cycling (adkultracycling.com), which produces a series of endurance events throughout the year. Starting in February, he organizes 100-mile rides that help prepare cyclists for the longer summer distance events. He even organized a RAAM qualifier event for many years that was a 540-mile ride. In 2020, he’s considering a major 24-hour race that will start at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville. Hudson Crossing Park is now part of the Empire State Trail, a 1750-mile multiuse trail from Manhattan to the northern tip of Lake Champlain, and Buffalo to Albany.
The Schuylerville area is adjacent to the Champlain Canal Trail, which is becoming a popular location for cyclists. John’s new bike shop is now the starting point of a number of bike rides that utilize the canal route as well as the dirt roads in the area for a mixed surface ride experience. This means more gravel rides for those of us looking for backroads that are scenic and less travelled. John is also assisting with the development of rides along the Champlain Canal Trail that will terminate at the end with a boat ride back to the starting location.
John has always been involved in the cycling scene and back in April 2009 he volunteered for the editor position for Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club’s BikeAbout newsletter. Perhaps I did a little arm twisting as I had just become president of MHCC and we were in need of a new editor. John did this free of charge for 10 years and made a number of improvements to the monthly newsletter, including eliminating the tedious job of putting address labels on the hundreds of copies of the newsletter.
John decided to give up the editor position this past winter when he seriously began considering opening up a new bike shop. Anyone who has started a bike shop, or any small business, knows how all-consuming an experience it can be. John and his wife, Kathy, spent considerable time looking for a location and a bike brand. Ultimately a location presented itself on Broad Street in the heart of Schuylerville, and the Bianchi brand was chosen. The Bianchi brand has long been a favorite of riders and provides a full-range of road, mountain, gravel, cyclocross bikes – and e-bikes as well.
The shop just opened in June 2019 and has already attracted a number of customers, both new and those who know John from his longtime cycling involvement. The new shop is only five minutes from his home so he can easily ride to and from work. As you might expect, John who’s accustomed to doing 200 miles in a day, is likely to take the long way home!
If you are in the area stop by and say hello to John. He also does repairs, and performs maintenance, as well as selling new bikes and e-bikes. If you are interested in a new bike, be sure to ask if you can take it out for a test ride, maybe more than a ride around the parking lot. John will understand the desire to go further!
Skip Holmes (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Delmar teaches sustainable design at RPI. He is a member of Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club and Capital Bicycle Racing Club. He can be found road and mountain biking, kayaking, hiking or Nordic skiing.