Plymouth Woman & Friends Look Forward to Cycling at a “Happy Pace” during Autumn Escape Bike Trek this September

Autumn Escape Bike Trek celebrates 30th year

(July 28, 2014)

Every fall, hundreds of people from New England and beyond escape to Cape Cod to enjoy the beauty of the Massachusetts coastline while riding their bikes to support the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s mission  to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease .   This year is a special year for the Lung Association and participants alike as the Autumn Escape Bike Trek (AEBT) presented by Sunovion, celebrates its 30th anniversary.  The event will be held September 26-28.


Happy Pace photo
Kelly Tonini (right) is pictured with her mom, Franny, who is the inspiration for team Happy Pace.

Team Happy Pace, captained by Kelly Tonini of Plymouth, was formed as a way to honor Kelly’s mother, Franny, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) about four years ago. Tonini and her boyfriend, Brian Agbay, who are both avid cyclists, started Team Franny in 2013 after meeting Lung Association staff at the Plymouth Waterfront Festival in their hometown.  Even though they learned about the AEBT only a few short weeks before the ride was scheduled to take place, they signed up immediately when they heard the event was to benefit the Lung Association.  And after having such a great experience at the AEBT in 2013, they decided to not only expand their team’s membership but to name the team “Happy Pace” to pay homage to Kelly’s mother whose love of the smiley face icon is legendary and as a reminder that life is too short not to be happy.

Tonini noted that last year she and her boyfriend came across cycling jerseys with the smiley face icon right before the AEBT.  They purchased them and wore them to the Trek, surprising Kelly’s father when he met them at the Falmouth rest stop to cheer them on. (Everyone in Kelly’s family knows of her mother Franny’s love of the smiley face icon and associates her with the symbol.)  The jerseys were such a hit that they decided they ought to rename the team “Happy Pace” and make the smiley face icon their official symbol in 2014.

“When I first heard about the AEBT I knew that I had to say ‘yes’ because lung disease is something that affects my family and the fight for clean, healthy air is something that is important to each and every one of us,”  said Tonini.  “Participating in this event, raising money to support the Lung Association’s work,  and helping to raise awareness about the importance of healthy lungs and clean air is something I am passionate about and want to do for many years to come. I’m so grateful that our team has six new members this year who will be riding with us to help boost our team’s fundraising and help amplify our message.  The new members on our team decided to ride with us because each of them has been impacted by lung disease in some way.”

Tonini is striving to raise $1,000 this year and says her goal for the team is to raise $5,000 so the Happy Pace team can secure a spot at Team Trek City. (Teams that raise $5,000 or more earn a tent at the popular “Team Trek City” which is a special feature of the Trek. ) She says that in addition to the wonderful scenery she gets to experience while riding along the coast, she loves the energy at the event and appreciates the opportunity to meet and interact with other likeminded people who share her love of cycling and her passion for fighting lung disease. 

“My mom is a wonderful, vibrant, caring person but living with COPD has definitely slowed her down and has limited what she can do,”  says Tonini.  “I ride because the funds we raise at this event support research that can help people like my mom who are living with lung disease.  I also ride because all of us deserve to have clean air to breathe so we can keep our lungs healthy.”

The 2014 Autumn Escape Bike Trek kicks off at the Hilton Garden Inn in Plymouth on Friday, September 26 and rides along the coast to Provincetown, finishing Sunday afternoon. Trekkers travel 160 miles over three days and experience some of the most breathtaking sights Cape Cod has to offer, and come away with an unmatched sense of pride and camaraderie. Trekkers may also choose a two-day, 105 mile option.


Cyclists are required to raise a minimum of $500; those who raise $1,000 or more become a part of the Winner’s Circle. Members of the Winner’s Circle will receive a one-of-a-kind 2014 Autumn Escape cycling jersey, along with plenty of perks throughout Trek weekend. The 2014 Autumn Escape Bike Trek hopes to raise $300,000 to support the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.  For more information on the 2014 Autumn Escape Bike Trek presented by Sunovion, to register, or sign up as a volunteer, visit To support Team Happy Pace visit