Rob Paddor's Ride 2 Recovery
Sept. 23, 2012 Final Minuteman Challenge Blog
I want to apologize to my Blog followers for the problems I had transmitting my Minuteman Challenge Blog. My e-mail was hacked last month and my iPad had an old password that didn't recognize my new e-mail address and password to transmit. Again, I apologize!
1 of my Challenge ride was eventually posted and now I want to share
highlights of my other 5 days of riding with Ride2Recovery. As I said
previously, Day 1 took us to Providence, Rhode Island. After a lunch
stop at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, we rode the
remaining 29 miles to Providence. The following day was September 11,
the eleven year anniversary of the airplane attacks on our soil. We
rode our bikes to the Providence State House where ceremonies of
speeches were held. John Wordin, President of Ride2Recovery, spoke
first and shared with us why we were there. Our next speaker was,
General George Casey, 4 Star Army General who again spoke of our mission
and the heroics of the riders who served and sacrificed. At 8:46,
there was a moment of silence, to remind us of the first airplane that
hit the South World Trade Center Building. Lastly, the Lt. Governor of
Rhode Island wished us a safe ride and after posing for a group picture
on the State House steps, we made our way to Hartford.
The 66 mile
leg to Hartford Ct. was okay in the beginning, but after 40 or so miles,
my neck and left shoulder started to bother me. My ride for the day
was over, as I got on the Scooby 2, and helped other riders, who dropped
Soon we approached downtown Hartford and saw thousands of
people, 5 deep on Conneticut Street, all wearing blue shirts, United
Health Care employees, waving flags yelling USA, USA!! We ended up at
Bushnell Park, adjacent to the capital building. Again, there were
ceremonies honoring the riders, but 2 riders got a special tribute.
Valerie Gambino, lost her fireman brother, Thomas on 9/11 and first
responder, Sean Reilly, of Brooklyn was also honored. They both spoke
eloquently about their feelings on such a horrible day in American
history. Later that evening we had a dinner hosted by a Local American
Legion Post. It was lights out early, as we got ready for our next leg,
New London, CT.
following morning, Bruce Gustafson, Ride Director, told us of some
major hill climbs leaving Hartford. Valerie Gambino and a few other
riders decided to hang in Scooby 1 for the first 20 miles and joined the
riders for the last 40 at the water break stop. Halfway there, we had
our lunch stop that consisted of the usual lunch faire of Ramen noodle,
chili Mac, bananas, oranges, pickles, energy bars and energy drinks.
Quickly, we left and before long, we entered the Naval Submarine Base in
New London. The sailors were waiting for us as thousands of them
cheered us on and high fiving us as we passed. We exited the base and
crossed the Thames River on a very narrow bike path, one by one. We
regrouped after we crossed and before long found our way to our hotel.
Dinner was back at the Submarine Base, but my roommate, Andy, and I
decided to ditch the group and head to Mystic, Ct., to enjoy some
I never made the connection, until we got there, but Mystic
is famous for their pizza and a well known old movie, Mystic Pizza, with
Julia Roberts. Dinner was delicious as I enjoyed a dozen oysters, a
salad and a dish called seafood ambrosia, which was scallops, shrimp and
crabmeat au gratin. Afterwards we walked over to Mystic Pizza and got a
large deluxe pizza that we brought back to the hotel for the riders, it
was consumed in minutes.
next morning started out with a 2 mile ride to the New London Ferry,
where we boarded and enjoyed a 90 minute ferry ride to the east end of
Long Island. We took pics on the top deck and anxiously awaited our
Long Island ride. Once we docked, we rode off the ferry and made our
way on Highway 25 which dissects Long Island in half, north and south.
The pace was quick, as we had a 96 mile leg to Glen Cove, our final
stop. We saw beautiful beach communities and plenty of vineyards, as we
made our way west. For some reason, I noticed a tremendous amount of
road kill of small animals and even a small deer. Our lunch stop was 25
miles later, at a beautiful vineyard. everybody was looking for shade
as temperatures were near 80 and with our quick pace of 17, 18 and 19
mph, everyone was hot and sweaty. Lunch was the usual and within 25
minutes, we were back on our bikes. We continued west and Long Island
started to look more metro, as we reached neighborhoods and shopping
malls. I packed it in 20 or so miles later, with the same aches and
pains. Eventually, the hills became problematic for the riders as we
stopped at the local VA for a break. I noticed a female rider being
attended to by paramedics. From what I understand, she was with the
"A/B" riding group and crashed pretty bad. The put neck supports on her
and put her on a gurney and then an ambulance, which took her to a
local emergency room. I never heard anything about her condition, but
the riders continued on to Glen Cove. The final 20 miles or so were
extremely treacherous, as I rode with a support car, following the "A/B"
riders. The terrain included some 12-15 degree grades and I saw the
group struggling up the hills, but slowly they made there way to our
final stop, the Glen Cove Mansion. Once we arrived, I noticed many of
the riders riding circles around the property. I couldn't quite figure
it out, until I was told they wanted to complete a "century"' a 100 mile
ride. Andy and I cleaned up and went to the bar for a drink, when we
saw General George Casey enjoying a beer. We ordered and then the
General made a toast, "here's to the old guys!!" We clinked our glasses
and had a chuckle!! We took a bus to the Glen Cove Golf Club, where we
enjoyed a patio dining of chicken and pasta. We hurried back to the
hotel, to watch the Bear game, but the hotel did not have the NFL
network, so we went to bed, disappointed. We set our alarms for a 4:30
wake up call. We had a ride to Macy's in Manhattan for a 7:30
ride briefing began at 5:15a.m. In darkness. I chose to board a bus
and join the riders in Queens, NY, for our ride to Manhattan. I wasn't
alone as 20-30 decided that riding in the dark could be a problem. 30
minutes later the bus took us to a parking lot, where we got our bikes
ready. Shortly thereafter, we saw John Wordin, leading the riders and
we joined them as we made our way south to Macy's. After crossing the
Queensboro Bridge, very cool, we made our way to 1st Ave. and before
long we were at Macy's on 34th St. We parked our bikes and walked in
the department store where we saw a wonderful buffet of eggs, bacon,
sausage, French toast, yogurts, bagels and sweet rolls. All the riders
loaded up as we got to meet Harry Carson, Hall of Fame football player,
with the New York Giants. Everyone posed for pictures, as we went
outside for some speeches by Macy's executives, new sponsors for R2R.
The New York Police Department Band played patriotic music and then the
National Anthem. Speeches continued, before we made our next stop to
the 9/11 Memorial. The hallowed ground was awe inspiring where we saw
30 foot waterfalls flowing over the footprint of both the North and
south towers of the World Trade Center. There was a wreath laying
ceremony, honoring a recovering victim of 9/11, as well as both Valerie
Gambino and Sean Reilly. We quietly spent an hour there, until we rode
our bikes to our hotel, in Ft. Lee New Jersey. We enjoyed a bike path
on the west side of Manhattan, which was adjacent to the Hudson River.
Eventually we made our way to the George Washington Bridge, which
included some serious hill climbs to get there. I felt Brian Smith's
hand on my back and he helped me up the bridge. we got to our hotel by
1:30, but unfortunately our rooms weren't ready and we just hung out,
sweaty and tired from our 30 or so mile New York City ride.
evening started out with a pizza party at our hotel and then we boarded
buses to our journey to Times Square and a performance of Tony award
winning, Porgy and Bess. The USO of New York, R2R and myself hosted the
riders to the Broadway show, which included a talk back, by the entire
cast, following the show. My friend, Michael Alden, Producer of P
&B, helped me arrange the terrific evening.
following morning we loaded buses, which took us to West Point, for the
Army football game. The grounds were beautiful, with plenty of hills
and forests. The campus included some older buildings, mixed in with
the new. Miche Stadium, home of the Army Black Knights, was up on a
hill as the buses parked and we walked to our seats. The stadium was
loaded with young cadets as they stood the entire game cheering on the
home team. Unfortunately, Army lost a close game to Northern Illinois
Afterwards, the buses took us to American Legion
Post 1, for our last dinner as a group. Dinner was terrific, with
chicken, turkey, fish and pasta and wonderful desserts. Following
dinner was a ceremony for our POW/MIAs. Over 88,000 soldiers have not
returned home from our wars and a ceremony consisted of speeches and gun
salutes. The tired riders boarded the buses for our last night
Honor Ride and Travel Day.
consisted of an Honor Ride, a ride open to the public to join the R2R
riders. we made our way up the west side of the Hudson River, which
included many river communities and beautiful scenes. I took the
shorter 20 mile ride and returned to the parking lot to put my bike up
and to say good bye.
I have to say, now that I've ridden on 3
Challenges, my feelings didn't include some of the sadness I felt
before. Maybe because I know I'm going to be riding with them again and
the convenience of staying in touch on Facebook, the R2R forum that the
riders connect on.
Next year, I'll be riding the Texas Challenge.
I've heard the ride is exceptional, with the flat plains of Texas and
good old Southern hospitality. That will be my next Blog!!
I want to
thank again, all my ride sponsors. Anyone can still sponsor my ride
challenge. I have raised close to $3000. and will match whatever my
ride total brings. Because of these riders, we are free!!
Sept. 10, 2012. Day 1. Minuteman Challenge
Yesterday's journey to Boston could have started out better, with a 3:30 wake up call, and with a canceled flight and a rebooked flight 3 hours later, it all didn't really matter, because any day that starts a Ride2recovery Challenge, is okay by me. Finally arriving at the hotel after 2:00, it started with hugs with my fellow riders and then I unpacked my bike and put it together. At 4:00 we had our mandatory rider orientation and then a 6:00 dinner hosted by United Health Care. Because of my early wake up call, by 9:00, I hit the sack and got ready for today's ride from Quincy, MA to Providence, RI, 52 miles south.
Today, we had a later than usual start, to allow the riders a break, because tomorrow we ride 73 mile to Hartford, Conn.
At the start, the riders were anxious, because of the late start, but by 9:30 we made our way to Foxboro, to enjoy our first break and lunch at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. We had little or no support from local police, to help us cross busy streets, initially, but with 200 riders, later in the morning portion of the ride, they seemed to find us, and with the help of the Harley riders, we never made a stop.
I felt the tone of the ride was different from last year's 9/11 ride, the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. With the exception of the a few workers, we really didn't see anyone watching us, offering support and encouragement, like we did a year earlier. I don't think it bothered the riders, but I sensed a big difference. I did see a fireman saluting us as we went by, but no schools or business's cheering us on as we continued.The ride did include a few hill climbs, but nothing too difficult, as we made our way to Foxboro.
During our lunch break, we got a chance to walk on the field to take pictures and hot dog. Many of the riders were Tebowing at the 50 yard line, posing for pictures and having a good time. We finally made our way to Providence, with some interesting streets, scenery and history. While the route was no Valley Forge, we did see some Pre Civil War homes and old stack stone fencing. The hill climbs weren't too bad and we made our 29 post lunch ride in less than 2 hours, as the pace was brisk, because it was Day 1 and more difficult portions of the ride are forthcoming.
Dinner was hosted by a local American Legion Post at our hotel. The cuisine was the usual pasta and chicken, but on R2R rides, meals are of little consequence, because the riders main mission is to ride and offer support to their fellow riders, as needed. After dinner, our speaker was a United Health Care VP, who offered encouragement and gratitude to our wonderful military who come to these rides to be challenged, physically, mentally and emotionally. We were told that tomorrow's 73 mile ride is loaded with hills, but I will give it my all and hope to ride all 73.
Lastly, I wanted to share with you my reason for riding. I love the challenge and the camaraderie, but fundraising, to help these fine people, is a big part of my mission. Today I was e-mailed with several notifications that donations are being made, but one of the them was extraordinary. I received a $500.00 donation from one of my Subaru customers, C. Smith. I was blown away and I immediately called her and thanked her. My voice quivered as I told her my appreciation for her kindness. The feelings I feel this week guide me as I continue to offer support anyway I can to these brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for me and America!!