In another era, doing advance work along Highway 1 in Vietnam meant dodging bullets amid the horrors of war.
Kathy Rosica was a teen-ager in the Town of Clarence when United States forces left that country in 1975.
Now 37, she will accompany veterans of both sides of the Vietnam War on a 1,200-mile bicycle tour along that infamous road. The tour starts next week in Hanoi in the country's north and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, in the south.
A quarter-century after war, she will do the advance work amid a spirit of reconciliation and inclusion.
For 16 days, Ms. Rosica will pump air into tires, prepare snacks, arrange lodging and haul equipment as a member of the support staff for the goodwill bike tour, called the Vietnam Challenge.
Veterans of the U.S. Army will ride alongside veterans of the Viet Cong. The disabled riders, many of whom were wounded in the war, will team with the able-bodied riders to help each other complete an average of 70 miles a day, Ms. Rosica said.
Blind riders will use tandem bikes. Those unable to use their legs will ride hand-cycles.
The 75-member team of riders will be led by cyclist Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the 2,455-mile Tour de France.
Educational and medical outreach programs will be promoted in communities the riders will visit along the way. A Web site has been established so American students can follow the journey.
"It's a way for people to see Vietnam less as a war and more as a country," Ms. Rosica said.
Ms. Rosica visited her family in Clarence this week before leaving for Vietnam.
The bike trip will send powerful messages, said Ms. Rosica, a toxicologist who now lives in Alexandria, Va. "When someone becomes disabled, they often think about what they can't do anymore," she said. "Sporting events like this allow them to think about what they can do."
Ms. Rosica learned of the bike tour through her involvement with World TEAM (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sports, a nonprofit group in Charlotte, N.C., which sponsors sports events that integrate able-bodied and disabled participants.
Ms. Rosica, a 1978 graduate of Mount St. Joseph Academy, said her interest in cycling intensified five years ago.
At home, she trained for the Vietnam Challenge by riding her bike 40 to 70 miles a day.
Route 1 does not pose the obstacles it did in wartime, but the road still makes her nervous.
"The road conditions vary," she said. "It's not always smooth."
The tour will be demanding, physically and emotionally, she said.
"I didn't know anyone close who was in Vietnam during the war," she said. "This will give me an opportunity to gain insight. I have an enormous amount of respect for those who went through the conflict and now have the courage to go back."