Tour of Litchfield Hills: From the founding of Team Sixcycle we knew we wanted to prioritize charitable giving. But we didn't know precisely what to expect when we chose the Tour of the Litchfield Hills as our team's 2012 charity. Certainly we hoped to partake in a ride with some fundraising along the way, but beyond that we didn't have much of a plan. Fundraising began in earnest on July 31 and with only 4 days until online donations closed we set a fairly aggressive team goal to raise $3,000.
However by the time 9 of us rolled off the start line on August 5th we had raised over $6,700 for the Center for Cancer Care in Northwest Connecticut and at the conclusion of the ride we were awarded with the Mayors Cup for most funds raised by a team.
For our prior posts on the Tour of Litchfield Hills please visit the following links:
Tour of Litchfield Hills Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird
The morning of the ride was a mixture of emotions I have never felt before - stressed, nervous, honored, proud. The stress began Friday afternoon as we were trying to locate a shipment of energy gels provided by Louis Garneau. I rushed to the event to deliver the goods which were quickly snatched up by the over 900 riders preparing to embark on the 100, 75, 55, and 35 miles routes. The nerves kicked in as I tried to make sure the entire team had arrived and was prepared to start at the front of the 75 and 55 mile mass start.
Before the start, I was honored to have been asked to deliver the opening prayer to the riders. As I was announced a nurse who treated me when I was sick shouted out my name. I choked up a little bit before saying to the 500 riders assembled "That's G. She was my chemo nurse 10 years ago".
After the prayer, Matt Pagano, the director of the Tour of the Litchfield Hills, announced the team's presence to the ride, thanked us for riding, and started us on our journey. We were on the front. The first 8 wheels with a police escort out of Torrington.
I took one brief look over my shoulder and got chills seeing the ride follow us up the first climb out of town. After that, I focused in and just tried to enjoy the ride. We settled into a nice pace and rotated through every 5 or 10 minutes.
The conversation among the riders ranged from answering questions of strangers to discussing how excited some guys were to no longer be suffering in the Catskills. The ride remained casual although with some guys feeling strong and others not so strong the team spread during the many climbs.
Over the course of almost 4 hours everyone was going to have a stretch where their legs didn't feel great. There was always a place to regroup and always a rest stop with fresh water and a PB&J sandwich close by. With 10 miles to go we reorganized and rode the final as a team. The guys asked me to lead the team across the line which was unnecessary but greatly appreciated.
Post ride was something that I, and most of the team, have never experienced. The first of which was giving an interview to a reporter immediately after finishing. The second was fielding so many random questions and just mingling with strangers after a ride. Often we see other riders on the road and everyone retreats to their houses. The finish in Torrington was different. They wanted to know what sections we found hard, why we "only" rode 75 miles (especially if they did 100), and how fast we rode.
At the end of the day, we all left rejuvenated and ready to race for the rest of the year. We also are confident that we'll be returning with greater numbers and, hopefully, even greater fundraising for this terrific cause.
Tour of Litchfield Hills Ride Data from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird
Click below to see the full route and ride data from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird, courtesy of team sponsor Sixcycle Performance Management. For more information on Sixcycle Performance Management please visit www.sixcycle.com
Press Article on the 2012 Tour of Litchfield Hills: Hundreds bicycle in ride to benefit cancer care
BY BRUNO MATARAZZO JR. REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
TORRINGTON -- Sharon native Charlie Bird will mark a number of milestones this week.He started the week not only by finishing a grueling 75-mile charity ride -- the ninth annual Tour of Litchfield Hills -- but he also won the Mayor's Cup for the most money raised by a team.On Thursday, he'll mark his 10th anniversary of being free of Hodgkins lymphoma.
Bird, 28, of New York, was one of 994 participants in the annual charity bike ride to support the Center For Cancer Care Fund, Inc., which helps local cancer patients at the center on Kennedy Drive with incidental expenses.It was his first time riding in the tour.The event fell short of its goal of attracting 1,200 bicyclists and walkers, but it was not known Sunday whether the $100,000 fundraising goal was met, event Co-Chairman Matthew Pagano said.
So far, $84,000 was raised, but more money continues to come in.Bird and his team, CRCA/Sixcycle RK&O, participate in different events almost every weekend across the Northeast.With Bird's 10-year anniversary of being clear of cancer approaching, the team decided not only to race this weekend, but to raise money for a charity that helps cancer patients in Bird's community.
"Amazingly, we ended up raising $6,700," said Bird, who was diagnosed at the end of his junior year in high school at The Hotchkiss School.The hardest part of the relay was the trip through hilly Norfolk, the last 15 miles, Bird said.It's those moments that he enjoys most about bicycling, he said."I just like pushing yourself and finding something new," Bird said. "You can always go a little harder ... you always find something to strive for."
Dennis Adamczyk, 57, of Torrington, who rode in memory of his sister-in-law, Lynn, who died of stomach cancer three years ago and in honor of his boss' wife, Melissa, who is a cancer survivor, also biked 75 miles.Like most bicyclists, the times weren't important, and Adamczyk didn't even bother checking.Instead, he is pleased that he raised close to $400 with the help of co-workers at Turner & Seymour in Torrington.
Cancer hits home for many of the participants in the annual event, even the organizers.Two years after starting Tour of Litchfield Hills, Pagano's daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and she'll soon celebrate six years off treatment."She was 2 when she was diagnosed. Now she's 8, and she'll be 9 in September and going into the 4th grade," Pagano said.He credited the volunteers and event sponsors with making the event successful.Along with volunteers who helped at Coe Memorial Park with registration and feeding the crowds, there were plenty more at water stations along the route.