This Saturday, I rode in the 7th annual CT Challenge--it was my first time. Even though I'd just gotten into road biking this past spring, I've been training hard and completed the 50 mile route. It was such an amazing experience!
The CT Challenge raises money to support cancer survivors. There were plenty of survivors who were riding, others who chose to volunteer, and lots of survivors cheering riders on. Before we all took off, there was a survivor's walk, and after that they announced that the oldest survivor riding was 71, and the youngest was 8. I'm not sure which was more impressive (and made me cry more!).
The spirit out there was unbelievable. Riders were looking out for each other, yelling "car back!" or "car up!" depending on the direction the car was coming from (a couple times, it was "runner up!"). As we headed through Ridgefield, about a million Ferraris passed us by on their way up to Limerock (and, just so you know, if you're ever on a bike and a Ferrari is behind you, you can totally hear it coming). The rest areas--about every 15 miles or so--were incredible. Stocked with power foods, water, Gatorade, electrolyte tablets, pain relief, EMTs and bike mechanics, they were such a great oasis to ride up to. I don't think I've ever eaten so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my life!
As I rode, I kept my friend Kathy and her mom in my thoughts--Kathy's mom is battling cancer as we speak, and every hill I climbed I thought of the battle she was fighting. I also kept in mind my BFF Sara's father in law, who just last week passed away from cancer.
There were some tough hills, and every person I know who has been touched by cancer helped me up them. It was such a great feeling finishing the race--I had been on some longer training rides, but never 50 miles. The race to the finish line felt great--we traveled from Westport up through Ridgefield into Bethel and Newtown, and back down through Easton, Fairfield, Southport, and back to Westport--I got excited approaching the Merritt Parkway on the return trip, and even more so once we passed I95. It felt great to finish, but truth be told, I was just so proud that I got to take part in something so amazing!
The CT Challenge is a fundraiser who's mission is "is to empower cancer survivors to live healthier, happier and longer lives. The Connecticut Challenge serves its mission by creating and funding programs, offering credible resources and building a community of support. To date, our programs have impacted the lives of 5,000 survivors in our state." If you are interested in donating, click here.