Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Brienne Schmidt will always remember her aunt on her bike, peddling through life, her attention toward God.
"She was a very spiritual woman, and for her, it was time with God, that she could be up with the sunrise, cycling with nothing to worry about but the breeze," Schmidt said.
Sadly, it was Dorothy Rice's pastime that meant her end, in an accident she never saw coming.
On Saturday afternoon, the 64-year-old Rice, of Endicott, was struck by a car and killed while she was riding her bike on State Route 434 in the Town of Owego.
"When we got the news, it was very shocking and there was a lot of disbelief," said childhood friend Debra Wilson. "But I can hear Dorothy saying, 'I died doing what I love.'"
For more than thirty years, Dottie was a member of the Southern Tier Bicycling Club, participating in a variety of trips and tours.
Over the summer, she rode 4,000 miles from the coasts of Virginia to Oregon, with another love, her husband, Donald.
"She came back from that and said it was the most difficult experience of her life," Schmidt said. "Cycling almost everyday, sometimes 50 to 75 miles daily at 64 years old, but she said it was the grandest experience of her life."
When Schmidt got the call that her aunt had died, she said she was overcome with shock and heartbreak, remembering what turned out to be the final conversation she had with her aunt, late at night, in Dottie's kitchen.
"We talked about life, marriage, we talked about what cycling meant to her, and how I was new to it but how I had already developed a love for it."
That conversation took place the night before Schmidt's first triathlon, a move inspired by Dottie.
Looking forward, Schmidt says she wants to organize a memorial race for her aunt, and complete another triathlon.
But for now, Dottie's family and friends are comforted by the thought that Dottie died doing what she loved.
"She lived for the bike ride and she died on a bike ride," Schmidt said. "She went off pedaling. We hope that one minute she was pedaling and the next minute she was going into the lord's light, that's what I imagine."
Before Dorothy Rice retired, she taught sign language at Broome Community College and was a sign language interpreter for BOCES.
Her niece says one of her fondest memories was translating for Ronald Reagan when he came to visit BU in the 1980s.
No charges have been filed against the driver in the accident.