Something insane happened out there today. I would dare say something out of body. I’m delirious. I’ll try to explain it tomorrow.

Crazy how far we can push ourselves when we have no other choice.

Thanks for all the love regarding the newspaper article.




I said it myself last Friday. I can do cold or I can do wind or I can do rain. Just can’t do ‘em all at the same time.

My first ride across the southern coast of Connecticut was so cold I wanted to cry. My second ride down the eastern coast of Massachusetts was crazy hella windy. And today… holy goodness did I get poured on.

The truth is I didn’t have a clear plan or a map when I left my house. I just wanted to cover as many of the roads of Bethel, CT as I could and I wanted to figure out a way to honor a friend who recently passed from the awful C-Word.

I expected to struggle, which I did. I expected to feel lost and directionless, which I did. We are what we think, right?

Well Bethel, as you probably know, does not actually have that many roads and almost every single one of them contains a hill or twelve. For hours this morning I trudged slowly up those hills and glided down just so I could turn around and trudge back up them. In my head I was desperately turning over ideas but nothing I came up with felt right. So I just kept riding around in sad arduous circles.

After lunch at Molten Java I felt pretty deflated and decided to switch things up. I headed out past the airport and over towards Briar Ridge and the George Washington Highway on the far south corner of Danbury. I paid homage to my friend’s childhood home, circled around down Saw Mill to say hello to the folks at Ann’s Place and decided to leave it at that for the day.

I was somewhere near the Seth Low Pierrepont Reserve, still killing myself for not having it all figured out, when the downpour kicked in. And all of a sudden I woke up to the simple joy of what I was doing.

I had so many ideas about how solemn today was supposed to be yet I couldn’t force any kind of clarity. Death and mourning are never easy to make sense of. It wasn’t until I was drenched to the bone in fresh, surprisingly warm, fall rain that I let myself just have a nice ride.

For eleven soppy miles I relaxed and paid very close attention to the moment I was in as opposed to the moment I was trying to create. It’s hard to admit but I think that’s occasionally just gonna have to be enough.




I’m mixing up the schedule this weekend because Eri and I have an opportunity to see her surgical oncologist, Dr. Beth Seiling, speak about the Myths of Breast Cancer Monday night. Tomorrow I’ll head out to northeastern Connecticut to do a three state loop (CT, RI, MA) around Quiet Corner.

In 1980 Bill Tortolani had a pesky cough. Figuring it was just a cold, he really didn’t want to do anything about it but his lovely wife Ellen pestered him to see a doctor anyway. When he went in for a check-up, the malignant tumor they found in his throat was the size of a potato.

From day one he’s been considered a marvel of modern day medicine and his case has been studied at Harvard Medical. How could a tumor grow so large in such a conspicuous spot and yet go unnoticed?

A few days later at a routine biopsy the doctor on call for the procedure accidentally sliced through his carotid artery. Oopsie daisy.

Ellen was at home with the kids, aged 3, 6 and 9, having no idea that a thoracic surgeon had been rushed into the operating room Grey’s Anatomy style to save Bill’s life. He woke up alone and nauseous from all the blood he swallowed while bleeding out, thinking that was it. He was a goner. But instead he survived, had thirty or so radiation treatments and prospered.

Eighteen years later the tumor grew back. So Pops Tortolani has three scars: One straight line across the side of his neck from the botched biopsy/carotid artery slicing. One half moon shape above that from the initial tumor removal. And one straight line down the middle of his chin where they split his mandible (jaw) in half to go in the second time.

Let’s just think about that for a second… he has a metal plate holding his chin together.

One MRI is enough for an entire lifetime. Bill has them every six months. Between those, radiation treatments and plain old office visits, he & Ellen estimate they’ve made the drive from Coventry, RI to Mass General Hospital in Boston, MA well over 150 times.

Yet when he puts a beer in your hand and sits you down at his table for homemade lasagna, salad, delicious bread and apple pie, it’s not because he wants to lament the unexpected medical course his life has taken. It’s because he wants to tell you about his beautiful wife and his incredible daughters and grandkids. He wants you to understand how lucky he is.

One of those daughters, Sue, has been a major player in my life for sixteen years now. She was the three year old at home with mom when dad was first in the hospital. And interestingly enough… she’s had a lifelong allergy to potatoes.

Sue’s dad doesn’t want to mention that he had an MRI last week that showed a new growth of lesions. He doesn’t want anyone worrying about what yesterday’s biopsy results are going to show in the coming days. But I already know all about them anyway. I’ve known about his MRI’s for years because every six months there’s a change in Sue.

If given the option, I don’t think Bill would alter the course of his life except for one thing: he would figure out a way to erase the fear and stress his wife and girls go through because of his health concerns. That’s what kills him. Not what happens to him, but what happens to them.

I rode 88 miles to their home in Rhode Island because these are the people who benefit from services such as the ones provided by Ann’s Place. These are people I love. These are people who matter. These are people who represent an unfortunately large population of families who deal with persistent cancers and non-stop invasive testing and procedures for years and years on end.

The roller coaster can be exhausting but in between the dips and loops there’s a lot of life to be lived. Bill Tortolani is living proof of the power of positive thinking and continued focus on love and gratitude. Do me a solid and send a few happy thoughts his way.

We love you Pops T. Thanks again for dinner.




Rather than post a mileage update every time I do a ride I’m going to keep one continuous log going. You can check back here for mileage progress and notes on routes by clicking on the CMHO Ride Log link in the Categories column on the left side of the homepage.


Mon 10/12/15

Danbury, CT –> Greenwich, CT –> Danbury, CT

Trip mileage: 68.3 miles

Time on the bike: 6:01:35

Odometer reading: 660 miles

Sat 10/10/15

Non-stop hills looping at the CT/MA/RI corner [Eagleville Pond, Natchaug State Forest, Route 198, Route 197, Douglas State Forest, RI Route 100, Buck Hill, Quaddick State Forest]

Trip mileage: 113.9 miles

Time on the bike: 8:56:36

Odometer reading: 592 miles

Fri 10/9/15

Local loops from home [Danbury, Bethel, Newtown, Ridgefield]

Trip mileage: 74.1 miles

Time on the bike: 6:34:26

Odometer reading: 478 miles

Thu 10/8/15

Short ride from home to stay loose and make up some miles

[Danbury, Bethel, Dodgingtown]

Trip mileage: 24.4 miles

Time on the bike: 1:50:16

Odometer reading: 404 miles

Wed 10/7/15

Hyannis, MA –> Coventry, RI

[Cape Cod over the Bourne to Wareham, Rochester, Rehoboth and Providence to the Washington Secondary Bike Path. Rough poorly maintained roads, lots of bumps, not recommended]

Trip mileage: 88.3 miles

Time on the bike: 6:44:58

Odometer reading: 379 miles

Mon 10/5/15

Hyannis, MA –> Provincetown, MA –> Hyannis, MA

[Completely awesome ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail and Route 6A, HIGHLY recommended]

Trip mileage: 104.8 miles

Time on the bike: 7:59:05

Odometer reading: 290 miles

Sun 10/4/15

Malden, MA –> Hyannis (Barnstable), MA

[I intended to stay inland on this ride but ended up out on the 3A anyway. Plymouth was nice but super windy and 3A had some hills. It got tight with a lot of fast traffic in parts but was still a very good ride. After crossing the Sagamore the ride on Route 6 was beautiful.]

Trip mileage: 85.6 miles

Time on the bike: 6:43:22

Odometer reading: 185 miles

Thu 10/1/15

Danbury, CT –> Mystic, CT

[Headed out through Newtown and came down Route 67 through New Haven. The city riding was busy with lots of traffic and construction but everything before and after was gorgeous. My map app kept me parallel to Route 1 down by the water for most of it.]

Trip mileage: 100.0 miles (Kind of unbelievable but absolutely true)

Time on the bike: 8:11:30

Odometer reading: 100 miles


Hoo-eee! That hurt! But I made it. Hyannis –> Provincetown and back.

Total mileage = 104.8 miles

Time on the bike = 7:59:05

Beautiful ride to the tip of Cape Cod today. Mad Love to the team at PTown Bikes for donating a tube and cartridges to the cause:



And a shout out to Orleans Cycle on the Cape Cod Rail Trail for posting my flier right on their counter so everyone will see it!



Tomorrow is a day off with the World’s Greatest SAG Team (a.k.a. Mom & Dad) who arrived just in time to meet me at the finish.  Hooray for clean clothes and puppies!



More to come but for now I sleep.

Please don’t forget this is a fundraiser. If you’re enjoying the ride as much as I am PLEASE CLICK HERE AND SHOW US YOUR LOVE!! Thank you Thank you Than you

Boo ya! I made it to Hyannis through some serious winds and some really pissed off drivers down through eastern Massachusetts! A friendly cyclist suggested I skip Route 3A so I re-routed my map app but somehow ended back on it anyway. I guess the universe just wanted me to work harder on some hills today. Now I’m relaxing at Hostelling International Hyannis where the innkeeper Monroe kindly offered me a free place to stay.

Today’s ride was from Malden, MA –> Hyannis in Barnstable, MA with a pit stop in Plymouth where the Mayflower originally landed. The folks at the Waterfront Visitor’s Center were awesome and let me hang fliers and spread the love!

Total mileage: 85.6 miles

Time on the bike: 6:43:22

Feeling great! Can’t wait to spread the word out to Provincetown tomorrow!

Here’s me and Monroe:




Hey did you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Yah me neither!

Did you know the eastern seaboard was gonna get hit by a hurricane the first weekend of October? Yah… me neither…

So this journey hasn’t started out the way I expected. My first ride to Mystic on Thursday was great. Smooth sailing all the way except for one snag – a rainstorm that started at mile 78. I was pretty tired by then but a Gu gel and a constant belting of Billy Ocean’s “When the going gets tough… the tough get going…” got me through to the end.

I crashed at Sue Crawford’s beautiful Carriage House at 26 Pearl and slept for nine solid hours. Friday I awoke to high winds that had already knocked over the back porch umbrella, non-stop rain and 44°. I’m pretty tough. I could make it through one of those things, but there was no way I could handle all three at once.

It was heartbreaking to use my phone-a-friend contingency so quickly but I had to keep in mind the whole point of this journey: spread awareness and love and inspiration. I can’t do that if I’m in bed with the flu.

Within a few hours my parents arrived and gave me a ride to Boston. I’m so glad they did. At no point in the day did it go above 48° and the rain didn’t let up for a second.

My new plan was to make up some of the missed miles today in and around Boston. So of course I woke up to a flat tire. I’m kind of a turd when it comes to fixing even the simplest mechanical problems and I quickly wasted my two chargers trying to figure out how to work my new CO2 inflator. I headed into town and hit up Back Bay Bicycles (conveniently located where my old laundromat used to be in the late nineties) for a pump and more cartridges. I also picked up some legwarmers which will make my next ride much more pleasant and hung my CMHO flier on their community board.

It’s hard to be on hold but it wasn’t a wasted day. I‘ll make up the miles in bits and pieces if I have to. Today’s set back doesn’t need to be a big deal even though it feels like one. For now it’s a three-way tie:

Cycle My Heart Out = 1

Hurricane Joaquin = 1

Flat Tire = 1

Tomorrow I’ll retake the lead. The tire is fixed and no matter what the weather situation I will ride to the Cape in the morning.

Here’s me and E and the Mayor of Danbury at my Thursday morning send off. My dad said he took the map I made for Ann’s Place and is hanging it in City Hall!





Danbury, CT –> Mystic, CT

Total mileage: 100.0 miles (So bizarre!)

Time on the bike: 8:11:30

More to come but I’m exhausted and I don’t have Internet access tonight.

Tomorrow I head to Boston!

When I was eleven the most pressing concern I had regarding my mother was that she was turning forty and all her friends were making fun of her for it. I wasn’t a very lighthearted child and the Over the Hill jokes seemed cruel. Try as she might to explain the humor of it, I ultimately just had to cry it out. How lucky was I.

Ericka’s oldest daughters are twelve and ten. And for a big chunk of this year they’ve been worried they could lose her.

Motherhood comes so naturally to Ericka. She is incredibly intuitive and lovingly engrosses herself in all the ins and outs of parenting. With a firm grasp of child psychology she has been diligently working with each of her children, according to their scope of understanding, to be OK with her bald head, her sick days and all her medicines. Constantly reassuring them that she will be just fine.

Even so, Ericka has said that telling her twelve year old daughter she had cancer was the hardest conversation she’s ever had. Regardless of our best attempts to make a bad situation seem less scary, we all know young children pick up on what’s really going on whether they can fully express it or not.

During chemo Emma voluntarily took a mature stab at keeping the little ones busy to give mom downtime when she clearly couldn’t see straight. For days after Eri’s double mastectomy Gabby insisted we prop pillows under her arms at bedtime so she could sleep in the exact same position she saw her mother rest in at the hospital.

Tomorrow I ride to Mystic, CT for the girls to honor a yearly tradition they had to miss this summer because of mom’s chemo regimen.

I ride for the youngest, Miss Sloaney Bones, who hopefully has processed very little of this past year’s reality at the tender age of five going on six, but who knew enough to be very concerned about who would sleep next to mommy when she was at the hospital. Thank goodness she nodded in agreement, seeming satisfied with the answer of “Me and Aunt Melissa, right next to her bed, all night. I promise.”

Tomorrow I ride for every daughter who has witnessed a parent battle for their life against cancer.

I ride for Samantha Contorno who lost her incredibly kind hearted and beloved dad Frank this past January at the way-too-young age of 50.

I ride for Sue Tortolani who recently found herself cross country and back home once again accompanying her father to his throat lesion MRI’s.

I ride for my cousin Christina who lost my Uncle Bill to lung cancer in 1996.

I ride for Ericka and her sisters, Crystal and Melissa, who, as daughters, endured their first run-in with breast cancer five years ago when their mother Jeanne was diagnosed and underwent radiation and a successful lumpectomy.

I ride for Wendy’s daughter Ruby, for Jan’s daughter Karen, for Teddy’s daughters MJ, Kim and Janine.

Tomorrow I ride for all the daughters who have grappled with the incomprehensible fear and stress of losing their guiding spirit. Sending love and light. Danbury to Mystic is for you.


I have so many people to thank and I haven’t even started cycling yet. The love is pouring in from all angles! Tremendous appreciation and gratitude to the following:

~ Sue Crawford of Carriage House at 26 Pearl Street for offering me FREE accommodations at her beautiful B&B in Mystic, CT

~ Monroe Sheppard at Hostelling International Hyannis for offering FREE accommodations and publicity on Cape Cod

~ Anne & Bill Meddaugh – complete strangers who have offered their home as a pitstop in New Hampshire

~ Sean & Jacqui Dowd at Ridgefield Bicycle Company for outrageously unbelievably generously donating a bicycle to our Ann’s Place bike raffle, for giving me a big discount on gear to trick out my rig and for letting me train with their awesome cycling club

~ Mitchell Fink! Mitchell Fink! Mitchell Fink! – You are a godsend!

~ Nicole Coleman of Arbonne for donating the entire Phytosport hydration line and high quality protein powder to fuel my rides and recovery

~ Brookfield Bicycle Center for a sweet tune up on my bike and for donating a C02 inflator and cartridges so I don’t need to carry a pump

~ Wendy Mitchell and Sandra Prendergast for publicity in the Patch and Danbury Daily Voice

~ Elaine Tedesco, Robbie Siemon & Anthony Zeolla at Ann’s Place for too many things to list

~ Everyone of you who has donated to the fundraiser, all my friends who are letting me crash at their houses and, of course, to my parents for not minding one bit that I quit my job, drove cross country with my dogs and plopped my unemployed self down on their couch for the foreseeable future.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! We feel the love and it helps make everything-that-is-the-shit-show-of-cancer easier to deal with. It gets me psyched to pedal my ass off and it melts the little heart right out of my dear sweet E-ska. You are our village and we love you.

Here’s me & E at the Autumn Evening at Ann’s Place celebration where we were graciously allowed to set up our bike raffle and display our fliers and maps. They even gave us time to speak to the crowd about why the heck we’re doing what we’re doing.

If you could have been there to see Ericka’s two oldest (ages 10 & 12) handing out CMHO stickers and spreading our message of LOVE and HOPE! They networked that crowd like professionals!” target=”_blank”>http://


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