SOUTHBURY — A group of Southbury cyclists made this year’s Closer to Free Ride for Smilow Cancer Hospital a little more than virtual by riding 110 miles from Class Cycles in Southbury to Watch Hill, R.I., on September 12. Due to Covid precautions, CTF was held as a virtual event this year. Instead of 3,000 people gathering at Yale Bowl, riders rode on their own, alone or in small groups. The opening ceremony was streamed online throughout the day.
Leaving Southbury at 6:30 a.m., the 10 cyclists rode through Seymour to New Haven, pausing to watch the opening ceremony and to visit Smilow Hospital, and then followed the Connecticut coastline all the way to R.I.
Making the trip were Ray Lee Chee, Brendan O’Brien, Daren Thornberg, Matt Ordway, Ken Marti, Drew Mulvey, Rebecca Metcalf, Rich Neeb, Steve Martovich and Ken Hanks.
During the opening, Mr. Martovich, a Southbury resident, was announced as this year’s recipient of the Mark Reitsma Courage Award. He survived stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2017, after it had spread throughout his organs and his brain. Unable to walk, he spent 8 months in a wheelchair, but rebounded to ride 65 miles in 2018’s CTF Ride. Mr. Martovich and Mr. O’Brien rode 100 miles together in 2019, and with the group completed 110 miles this year.
Several riders in the group completed their first Century Ride on this day. All are excited to return to Yale Bowl next year when Closer to Free returns as a normal event due to Covid. This was the 10th annual Closer to Free Ride, which has raised more than $19 million for Smilow Cancer Hospital since 2011. More information is available at www.rideclosertofree.org. Fundraising remains open until the end of the year.
Making the trip were, back from left, Ray Lee Chee, Brendan O’Brien, Daren Thornberg, Matt Ordway, Ken Marti, front, Drew Mulvey, Rebecca Metcalf, Rich Neeb, Steve Martovich and Ken Hanks.