Expo on the HITWGC Angel Ride
By Nick Willette
Photo Courtesy Matt Leon
The first day of AngelRide started very early (4:15 AM for most) with cool and cloudy conditions. They were slightly less than desirable but, certainly better than last year's 38* and pouring! As everybody made their way to Norfolk CT for the start the atmosphere was ripe with enthusiasm and anticipation for the upcoming miles and smiles to be had by all. At the start, a full breakfast was provided to riders as well as a safely briefing by undoubtedly the BEST moto- crew in the country! Finally, a few words of inspiration from AngelRide's very own Lynn MaCarthy and Ross Gipson. They delivered to riders and volunteers the motto for this year's ride...NEVER STOP CLIMBING. Which to all of the day one participants was a phrase that was about to become a reality. As the ride started with a fantastic motorcycle lead out train by the above mentioned moto-crew; the riders faced an 86 mile trek from Norfolk to Ashford Connecticut which included 6,200+ ft. of climbing. The phase "NEVER STOP CLIMBING" also rang true to many that no matter the situation hard or easy- it is our job to do the best we can and strive for excellence! So as Expo carved their way through the route, I know that we made a difference in lending helping hands to tired hamstrings and aching backs. But, also cheered on and motivated riders all the way to the roars and applause that the gates of camp had to offer by the most amazing volunteers who were there in droves just to say thank-you. The best however was saved for last. Exactly 10:12:26 after starting, the last AngelRider rode proudly into camp with no other than James Krupienski right by his side! James had stated that he would without question be the last rider off the course that morning however, the way it happened was something truly humbling and would give anybody the "shivers". James crossed the line with a two time cancer surviver who was determined to finish the route despite only getting on a bike ten day prior! It was a finish line that many will never forget!
Day two started with all of the same enthusiasm as day one, only the sun was out and arm warmers were not needed! As the morning progressed, the Red & Black of the Aetna-Expo kits were quite noticeable among the sea of blue and white AngelRide kits. Day two promised to be another memorable day with a route that covered 52 miles from Ashford to Mystic CT with just over 2000ft. of climbing. Expo was able to again provide aid to any rider who needed it mentally, physically or mechanically. I heard of many Expo riders who made the difference and were at the right place at the right time to help out! The sun was shinning and as riders reached the shore line all you could see from them were smiles. The day ended with many awesome finish line fist pumps and well deserved "than-yous" from family, friends and complete strangers just the same. While every finisher had a reason to be proud, there was one finisher that made quite an entrance. Expo's own Jack Krupienski crossed the finish line with one fist in the air and the biggest smile on his face as he finished his 28 mile ride from Hopeville Park. Accompanied by his dad, James and many Expo team mates one can only imagine what he was thinking at the moment. In a word- inspiring. The rest of the day was filled with sun, an incredible cookout provided by Mohegan Sun and more than enough laughs and smiles to go around! it was an unforgettable weekend! GO EXPO!
Remember- NEVER STOP CLIMBING