On August 4, 2013, Team Sixcycle-RK&O returned to the Tour of the Litchfield Hills and for the second consecutive year was awarded the Mayor’s Cup for most funds raised by a team. As was the case last year, Team Sixcycle-RK&O’s Charlie Bird, an 11 year cancer survivor who grew up in the area, was asked to lead the ride in it’s traditional opening prayer. Below, Charlie has written a brief account of his day.
The Tour of the Litchfield Hills Ride Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O’s Charlie Bird
After waking up at 4:30 am to race on Saturday, the 5:00 alarm on Sunday kind of felt like sleeping in. Our 75 mile ride did not start until 8:00, but I had the honor of leading the Tour’s send-off prayer at the start of the event – thus the early alarm. When I was asked to read the prayer earlier in the week I agreed on one condition – that G, the technician who administered most of my chemo read it with me.
After the 30 minute drive to Coe Memorial Park in Torrington, CT, I stepped out of the car and G immediately ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. Nothing new. I have been healthy now for almost 11 years and she still sends me a birthday card. She was wearing a necklace laced of Polaroids. On each clip hung a picture of one of her patients. I was on there. 17 years old, sick, scared, but smiling. It was yet another blunt reminder of why this event means so much to me and why I am personally honored to have the team’s annual support.
After reading the prayer and sending the first Tour of the Litchfield Hills participants on their way, I was able to relax a bit at our Team Sixcycle-RK&O tent and spend time with friends I had not seen in a year. Meanwhile teammates who left the city before 5AM started rolling up to the park, coffee in hand after their own early morning alarms. Eventually we all kitted-up and took our place at the front of the 75 mile ride.
With gorgeous weather and the rural backdrop of upstate Connecticut the ride started somewhat spirited to start and ultimately stayed that way for entire 75 miles. We all enjoyed the rolling country roads, ate a few too many PB&J sandwiches at the well stocked pit stops, and luckily avoided mechanical mishaps throughout. It was a glorious few hours on the bike – telling stories, putting in some attacks on the rollers, and above all else enjoying the company of close friends and teammates.
Upon our return, we all rushed to the food and drink line and indulged in the plentiful pizza and pasta. Matt Pagano, Director of the Tour of the Litchfield Hills, approached me soon after to let me know that we had won the Mayor’s Cup and would be needed on the podium shortly. It was amazing to walk on stage nearly 20 strong having raised over $8100 (now up to $8400 as I write this).
I was given the mic and could only think about thanking the 19 other people spent yet another Sunday to ride their bike and raise money for a charity whose mission is more than two hours from our home in New York City because I asked them. To me that’s what being on a team is all about.
Tour of the Litchfield Hills Team Sixcycle-RK&O: Charlie Bird, Matthew Vandivort, Roger Parmelee Jr, Bryan Fried, Johnny Buenaventura, Tom Mikolinski, Ryan McGarrity, Lisa Vandivort, Nancy Bird, Bob Bird, Greg Frank, Roger Parmelee Sr, Sara Blake, John Atchley, Linda Sloan, Leah Bellow-Handelman, Chris McLinden, Bruce Haggerty, Cara Chuong