On Sunday, Michael Halderman will wear number 343 with extra special pride
There are many reasons why people request a certain bib. A lucky number, the year they were born, their age, the year they got married! Michael Halderman, 60 has been requesting the same number for the past three years and his persistence has finally paid off.
“I was a Captain on 9/11 and assigned to the FDNY. As a lieutenant I worked with and trained many of the 343 members that perished on that day,” tells Halderman.
Now retired and logging 10,000 miles a year on two wheels he admits to having attended too many funerals during his years of service.
“Through the 80’s and 90’s we lost a lot of members. Then in 2001 we had a Fathers Day fire in Queens and two more men were lost from my dad’s old firehouse in Woodside, Queens.”
Two months later Halderman’s father passed away. One month later 9/11 happened. If the culmination of events wasn’t already enough to process, Halderman lost his brother David that day. The question ‘why couldn’t it have been 342 souls’ is one Michael has asked himself over and over.
“For sometime that morning my mother didn’t know the status of the two of us. She knew he was working but didn’t know where I was. She wasn’t sure if she had lost one or two of her sons,” he recalls.
On reaching the scene, Halderman had to call his mother to say that they, Squad 18, were all gone.
To say 9/11 changed how Halderman lived seems like an obvious statement to make. It changed lives around the world. For Halderman who is still haunted by the towers, it naturally prompted a change.
Halderman took his last drink on September 13, 2003.
“I wasn’t a hard core alcoholic, but I knew it was doing me no good. David fought the devil to drink but was well on his way to sobriety upon his passing. In some way I felt doing this act was in honor of him,” he reveals.
Halderman however was unprepared for the side effect of his new sobriety.
“I seemed to dwell upon more on what’s been wrong in my life rather than what’s going right.”
Refocusing on the positive Halderman ramped up his love for cycling and was quickly able to lose twenty pounds and then another ten. In 2004 he took part in a cross-country bicycle tour with other Fire Department members raising money for the Widows and Children’s Fund for non-line of duty deaths.
“That ride was such a humbling experience, so many people came and welcomed us into their small towns.”
Cycling has helped Michael finally find peace with himself and since finding out about Campagnolo GFNY through a bicycling magazine he now has a yearly goal to work towards.
“I admit a friend talked me into the first one in 2015 as I wasn’t sure how it would go.”
It went pretty ‘okay’ and Halderman made it his mission last year to make the top 10% and (this year) hopefully take a podium spot in his age group. It may also come as no surprise that for someone who logs an annual 10,000 miles he looks forward to the burning climb and challenge of Bear!