About Lea's Foundation

In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 54 - New Windsor, NY to Farmington, CT (91 miles)

We woke with excitement, we knew that we had completed the last century-ride of our trip yesterday, and all that stood between us and our family and friends tonight was three mountain climbs along with more miles of rolling New England hills.  After completing our morning rituals of peanut butter covered foods and other preparations, we rolled towards Newburgh, NY.  We headed for the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge pedestrian path.  One of the reasons we had come up to Newburgh was that this was the safest bridge for cyclists to cross the Hudson on, due to its dedicated bike path on the southernmost edge of the bridge.  We descended down into the river valley and then climbed up onto the bridge path.  Signs warned of bridge work, but we did not think much of them until 200 yards into our crossing we were obstructed by a construction fence.  There was no way to push around it, and a local pedestrian told us that they have been occasionally closing the walkway throughout the summer as they conducted maintenance on I-84.  She said the bridge work would not be done until August 31.

Jonathan and I fully intended to get to Farmington today, not in September, so the state of New York left us with no choice.  We unpacked our bikes, and systematically (and if I do say so myself, rather smoothly) carried our stuff over the barricade into the construction lane, and reassembled our bikes on I-84.  Right before our covert operation, a police officer had driven by, so we knew we had to be quick in getting across the bridge.  When we could, we rode in the construction lane, and before long we had crossed the bridge, and climbed back onto the bike path on the eastern side of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.  Looks like we had to use I-84 more than I thought we would in yesterday's post...

With more than enough interstate riding for one day, we headed off in busy New York rush hour traffic on state and county routes towards Connecticut.  One large obstacle stood in our way: Wingdale Mountain.  After exhaustingly steep rolling hills that robbed us of our momentum at each climb, we entered a rotary that pointed us up 6+% grade hill that we trudged up.  Around a few more corners, it became evident that this was the first of the three mountains that our elevation profile had warned us about on today's ride.  Eventually we reached the summit as sweat poured from our bodies.  We descended down to a marshy lake, and thought the descent had been a bit short considering our prolonged ascent.  We were wrong and soon we were dropped down more steep hills and turns that netted us new top speeds greater than 43 mph each.  Two days in a row we have set new top speeds.

A couple more rolling hills and we had passed into Kent, Connecticut.  Our final state border crossing, and once again we were disappointed to not find a sign welcoming us home to Connecticut.  We had not eaten breakfast yet, and with a deadline to get to UCHC by 4:30pm, we stuffed down some gas station food before heading off towards Cornwall.  We cruised up Highway 7 and onto Route 4.  Leaving Cornwall we knew the second climb of our day would be imminent as we neared Goshen.  A tailwind was building behind us that keep us moving, but allowed the humidity to keep up with our pace and did nothing to slow our sweating.  The pace we were keeping today was quite a bit faster than we have been doing for the past 53 days, and I do not think it would be sustainable if we knew we had to bike tomorrow.  We stopped at a convenience store halfway up the mountain to refuel with electrolytes, protein and caffeine (what else do you really need on a cross country bike ride?).  We rode quickly through Goshen and took in the gorgeous views of lakes, hills and agriculture that this portion of Connecticut offered to us.  Approaching Torrington we lost the elevation we had fought so hard for.

We had one last stop at Burger King in Torrington.  The workers there could not believe that we had come all the way from San Francisco and one of them even ran out to the parking lot telling us she would pray for us to finish the trip safely.  Ride outside Burger King's driveway we started the third and final climb that was keeping us from Farmington.  This climb was the shortest of today's three, but without a shoulder and in increasingly dense traffic, was still a bit exciting.  Reaching the top, it was time to begin an overall descent down to the Health Center.

At this point our 4:30pm planned arrival was impossible, but we still did everything we could to make it to Farmington as fast as possible.  We rolled up and down the hills averaging close to 18-20 mph, with the wind still pushing us from behind.  Finally reaching Collinsville, it was time to use bike trails to travel along the Farmington River.  We passed a number of other cyclists on the bike path, and despite biking as fast or faster than them, we unsurprisingly were carrying the most gear out of all of them.  We passed Jonathan's street in Unionville and continued on to cruise past the Farmington Meadow Land.

We passed Miss Porter's School and landed out on Route 4 once again, this time heading towards the I-84/Route 4 intersection.  Traveling through the jug-handle turn, we could finally see the Health Center.  Never before have I been so excited to see that building.  We rolled in the main entrance and through the new rotary that had appeared since we left.  We crept up the speed bump covered hill and the Academic Entrance came into view.  Our families, friends, deans and the media were ready for our arrival and cheered for us as we rolling up to them.  Hugs, kisses, champagne showers, flowers, pictures and TV interviews welcomed us back to Farmington.  It has been quite an adventure, but both Jonathan and myself are very glad to have been back.  We are grateful for the support we received from Connecticut and from the memories and friends we made across America.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

1 comment:

  1. What an accomplishment--congratulations!

    UConn Health news release: http://bit.ly/14c2chome
    FOX CT report: http://youtu.be/4aDY86s8XfE
    Courant Story: http://t.co/aOZTNN8Nv7