Helping Haitians Help Haitians

2021 Ride - October 11-15  See Day-by-Day reports below!

On Monday, October 11, a team of riders from Outreach to Haiti will be starting the seventh annual bike ride. As with past years, the team will ride 337 miles over 5 days. The bike ride has been planned as a "virtual trip" across Haiti, and we hope to visit some of the parishes and schools in Connecticut that are twinned through Outreach to Haiti with parishes, orphanages, and schools in Haiti. Although our past rides began in Maine and included cycling in five of the six New England states, due to COVID restrictions, this year's rides will all be in Connecticut.

The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness and funds to support our mission in Haiti. Outreach to Haiti has been in Haiti for over 35 years, serving the poor in the Christ Roi (Christ the King) community of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas with a healthcare clinic, food and nutrition programs, education programs, developing and maintaining twinning relationships, cultural immersion trips, and the FAK program, which empowers women to start their own businesses. Our motto is Helping Haitians Help Haitians. More information about Outreach to Haiti can be found on other pages of this website.

The specific goal of this year's ride is to raise funds to support these programs. This year, conditions in Haiti have been worsened due to COVID-19 and the unrest resulting from the assasination of President Moise, the demand for our services has increased significantly. All of our programs have become even more critical than ever. So the people we serve in Haiti ARE IN GREAT NEED OF OUR SUPPORT.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers for a safe and successful ride (and an occasional continual tail wind would be nice!).

 

Click here to donate: 

Please Help Our Efforts by Donating Today

October 11 - Day 1

We're really excited to start our ride! Our friends and family have been very generous with donations, and this, along with the great work Outreach to Haiti does to help people who are in great need to help themselves motivates us to do this ride. We had pretty good weather and are expecting good weather all week. At the start of today's ride it was about 60 degrees and cloudy, and while the tempature did get up into the 70's, we only saw the sun a couple of times. It was also a bit windy.

We are going to be a little short-handed with riders this week, but we will mange. Dan and Ron, who are regulars, are both injured. We are looking forward to their return next year. We are also looking forward to being able to start in Maine, which is our non-COVID-19 tradition. Unfortunately, we are riding in CT (with a short ride into MA on Wednesday). Dan and Ron are still with us, though - they are providing support, and Ron certainly was a key member of our team today!

We rode a total of 74.1 miles, starting out in Farmington, and going down to New Haven and back. Tom Campbell and Steve Cuddy - two Providence College graduates, were the riders, and the aforementioned Ron Paine drove the support vehicle. Here we are before heading out at 9:00 A.M.

 

We look the same as we did in college in the early 80's (as long as we keep our helmets on)!

The vast majority of the ride was on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.  A paved, well-maintained, smoothly graded trail. It's also part of the East Coast Greenway, which runs along the entire eastern US. We were heading south, and if we kept going, we would eventually make it to Key West. But of course that would be much more than our planned 337 miles! Maybe we can do that when Dan and Ron are able to join us!

Here is the Farmington River, from the trail's bridge

             

We started off at a good pace, and were really enjoying the ride. Part of the trail in Plainville and Southington, CT goes on back roads. At about the 9 mile mark on one of the side streets, we heard a pop, which could only mean one thing - a flat tire. Steve's bike had a flat rear tire! Rear tires are always harder to change. Looking at the flat, we saw a good sized nail impaled in the tire. We changed the tube, and just before we were ready to put the tire back on the bike, we heard another pop! Thinking it was the hole in the tire, we decided we had to call Ron! I always keep a spare tube (one) handy in my saddle bags, but a new tire and a second tube we didn't have. Ron came to the rescue, and after a while we were on our way.

The ride reached its point of return on the Yale campus, but we didn't go for a full tour.

                                  

Shortly after we started back from Yale, we stopped for a short break. It was then we heard a third pop! The same tire went flat again, and this time it happened while Steve wasn't even on the bike. Luckily, Ron was nearby, and we looked more carefully at the rim of the tire. There was a hole on the inside of the rim where one of the spokes meets the rims, and the small hole in the tube was in the spot where the tube hit that hole. We were able to patch the hole using a tire patch and some glue, and we were on our way, hoping it would hold. Unfortunately, that only lasted 5 miles, when pop #4 occurred. So, we had to call Ron again, and he took Steve to a nearby bike shop, where they properly fixed the issue and gave Steve his 5th tube of the day. I rode solo until Ron and Steve could meet up with me.

We made it back to Farmington in one piece, with working bikes. A little late, but that's part of the adventure!

We returned to a treat - Tom's neighbors; twin children gave us a great welcome back, and send off for future rides - thanks Colin and Liam! What a treat from a wonderful family!

      

Tomorrow we head out from St Mark's Church, St Pio Parish, in Westbrook at 9:00 a.m., after visiting with some of the peope in the parish. The parish is one of the many Norwich parishes twinned with parishes in Haiti, through Outreach to Haiti.  It looks like we will have another great weather day!

October 12 - Day 2

Today was a beautiful day for biking - in the 70's and sunny, and there were no flat tires!

Steve and Tom rode again today, and we ended up being a 68.9 mile ride. We starting out at St. Mark's Church in Westbrook, and doing loops in both Lyme/Old Lyme and the Old Saybrook/Westbrook/Clinton/Madison area, and back to St. Mark's. Ron Paine again drove the support vehicle.

Before we left, we had a wonderful reception by St. Mark's Haiti Ministry, with a few goodies, and to catch up with friends we have made in prior year rides. The parish is one of the many Norwich parishes twinned with parishs in Haiti, through Outreach to Haiti. One of the parishioners that attended the get together was Marie Farrell, who is also on staff at OTH. The reception was held right after daily mass, where those in attendence prayed for our safety and success.

     

Here we are - Steve in blue, Tom in yellow, Dan next to Tom, and Ron at the right - with two St. Mark parishioners, before heading out at a little after 9.

Today's ride was a really nice route. We rode along the water - over the Connecticut River and along the Long Island Sound. Most of the hills were manageable, and the ride along Route 1 was fun (although there was quite a bit of traffic and this was a very challenging part of the ride). We had a nice tail wind as we rode in a western direction along the water through the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook, and the town beach areas in Westbrook and Madison.

Along the way, we stopped at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. Ron met us there with a much needed lunch. In fact, Ron kept showing up at different parts of the ride. He had a much quieter day given that we had no flats or mechanicals.

This is along the route in Essex during the early part of our ride,

   

. . .a photo from Old Lyme, along the water

. . . at Westbrook town beach - I think one of the seagulls took this one, and

. . . Steve and Tom riding along Route 1 - only 8 miles to go!

Tomorrow we start in Farmington again at 9:00 a.m., and ride ride north on the Farmington Canal Heritage, Columbia Greenway Rail Trails, with a detour on the way back along the along the Farmington River Trail. The weather forecast is calling for another nice day!

October 13 - Day 3

Another good day for biking - a little cooler and overcast, but still no rain. The day started at Tom's house again, with Tom and Steve riding, and Dan O'Sullivan providing support. As with Ron, Dan is injured and is really looking forward to being able to ride in future rides.

Here we are leaving in the morning - Steve on the left and me on the right. We are both wearing orange, which went with the autumn colors, but that was just a coincidence - we didn't call each other ahead of time!

The route went north on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail - through Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Granby, and Suffield. The trail is paved and wooded, and this is the week where the leaves are starting to turn. So, we were fortunate to see the colors.

You can see the color in the photo below that Dan took after a break as we headed towards Massachusetts - Steve on the left, and Tom on the right.

Once in Massachusetts, the trail turns into the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, and we headed towards the trailhead in Westfield, MA. Now the last time I was there, the trail ended just before the Great River Bridges at the Westfield River, but there was activity to extend the trail to the river. When I planned the route over the summer, the software showed that the trail did extend. Unfortunately, when we got to Westfield, the trail was blocked. We could see that the extention was almost completed, but we had to improvise and use local roads to get the the Great River Bridges. It was worth it - very nice views.

   

As we headed back to Farmington, we took a planned detour through the backroads of Simsbury and headed towards Canton. After another quick stop (thanks Dan) we rode the scenic trail through the historical Collinsville section of Canton, with its views of the Farmington River.

We then picked up the Farmington River Trail, which goes along the river in Burlington and Farmington. Here is a photo of a waterfall along that stretch.

From there, we headed back to Tom's house, going over the trail's bridge over the Farmington River.

Concluding the ride, we were again greeted by the sign from Tom's neighbors, Colin and Liam (see day 1 for photos).

Tomorrow we start in East Hampton, from Jim and Mary Ann Hubert's house. After riding on the Airline Trail, our first stop is the Cathedral, where we will be greeted by Bishop Cote. We will then ride along the Connecticut shoreline, and finish in Deep River, near where we rode on Tuesday. This will be a more challenging ride, with a bit more elevation gain.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayer, as we keep the people of Haiti and our benefactors in ours while we ride.

October 14 - Day 4

Today was the nicest day of the week (so far) weather-wise, and the most challenging day ride-wise. We started at Jim and Mary Ann Hubert's house on Lake Pocotopaug in East Hampton. Steve and I were joined by Jim, who rides 50 miles every year. I won't tell you how old Jim is, but next year he is planning a "80 for Haiti" ride during a couple of days of our ride.

Steve and I covered 72.9 miles. Providing support today was Dan O'Sullivan and Mary Ann Hubert. Below is Jim and Tom at the start of today's ride (Steve was delayed by traffic and joined us shortly after this photo was taken.

     

We started the ride at 8:00, with tempatures right around 60 degrees (it warmed up pretty quckly and reached into the 70's). Most of the first 10 miles was on a section of the Airline Trail, a series of trails through Central and Eastern CT. This section was unpaved, but very rideable. Jim rides this trail on a regular basis, and is very familar with the terrain. He led the way, and set a very quick pace.

We headed towards the Cathedral in Norwich with a goal of a 10:30 meeting with Bishop Cote. Outreach to Haiti Excecutive Director Susan Wallace alsos met us. As with last year's ride, the students in the Cathedral School (grades K-8) were not able to meet with us. However, we are blessed and fortunate to have been able to be with Bishop Cote today. The photos below include Bishop Cote, Jim, Tom, Steve, Dan, Ron, and Susan.

        

We stocked up on drinks and had a few snacks (thanks Mary Ann!), and were on our way. Steve and I rode south toward the CT shoreline. We headed down Route 12 towards the Gold Star Bridge, which is part of I-95 (with a protected bike lane). This was part of the challenging ride comment I made earlier - route 12 is a busy street with lots of hills. The high temperatures added to the challenge.

After crossing the Thames River on the Gold Star Bridge, we rode mostly along routes 1 and 156, through New London, Waterford, Niantic, and East Lyme. We stopped along a park on the Niantic River for a break (thanks Dan), we rode over the Connecticut River on the Baldwin Bridge (like we did on Tuesday), and headed towards our finish line in Deep River.

This was the only photo I took of this part of the ride (sorry).

Towards the end of the ride, we went through Essex. Besides being a beautiful, historic town, Essex is known for it steam engine train. We were able to experience this when we entered the town. We had to stop at the track crossing for the train. We felt the spray from the steam exhaust as it went by. I was too slow in getting my phone our to take a picture. We must have made good time the rest of the ride, because as we pulled into the Deep River Landing, the train had just pulled in.

It was a long ride, but we were greeted by nice views at our ending spot.

       

Dan met us in Deep River and we ended the day with a very nice get together on the Hubert's deck overlooking the beautiful lake (because Mary Ann won't let us leave her house on an empty stomach!).

Tomorrow we start again at my house in Farmington, and we will ride an out and back to Mercy High School in Middletown. We are looking forward to meeting the students and completing this year's ride.

October 15 - Day 5

Today was a very special day for many reasons. First, the weather was absolutely great - you can tell by the photos. Second, it was our last day, and we did the shortest ride of the week. Steve and I covered 54.8 miles. Here we are at the beginning of the ride at my home in Farmington. Dan once again provided the support, and he met us at Mercy High School, our originally planned first stop (he was available by phone in case we needed him for help, but fortunately everything went smoothly).

 

But another reason it was a special day is because it was my father's 92nd birthday. Mercy High School is in Middletown, the same town I grew up in and where my father still lives. As Steve and I made our way towards Mercy, we were a few minutes ahead of schedule. Our route took to the street where my father lives, so we decided to stop by for a quick visit. Here is my Dad and me on his deck looking over the backyard. Happy Birthday Dad!

Mercy High School has been a friend and supporter of Outreach to Haiti for many years. We have made a visit to the school a part of our annual ride, but unfortunately, we missed visiting them last year due to COVID-19. So, another special part of the day was being able to once again stop by the school. The reception we got was a lot of fun. As Steve and I rode into the parking lot, we were greeted by the entire student body out in front of the school. Here are photos of Steve and I being greeted by the students.

      

We were also treated to lunch and got to meet with the school's president, staff and 2 students who were part of the school's peer ministry.

After this very pleasant break, we were back on the road for the final 27 miles of the ride. We rode back to Farmington, where we were greeted by family, friends, and neighbors to celebrate the week.

    

Best of all, the chalk art in my driveway survived the week (no rain!), and our neighbors amended the message to include Steve (Mr. Cuddy)! Thanks again Colin and Liam!

 

We say this every year, but it bears repeating. We continue to be incredibly blessed, not just because we had great weather and we came home safely, but because of the many people who helped, prayed, reached out to us with encouragement and donated.

Thanks to Tom, Steve, and Jim, who rode this year, and to Dan and Ron, who were there in spirit. We hope you are healed physically next year because we missed you both on the road. Of course Dan and Ron were also with us as support drivers - you provided mechanical support, but you also provided the ongoing support of having food and drink ready, and meeting us for breaks. This made the ride much more tolerable, and much more fun!!

I was also blessed to have my friend Steve join me for the week. It was wonderful spending time with you and catching up on things - especially the new book you authored!

We thank the parishes and the school that reached out and met us - giving us great send-offs, or support during the day - St Mark's in Westbrook, Christ the King in Old Lyme, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Norwich, and Mercy High School in Middletown. These help strengthen the relationships for the work all of us do in Haiti, helps the riders tremendously, and provides important financial support. All so important for our work in Haiti to reach as many people as possible.

Bishop Cote, who makes time in his busy calendar each year to greet us and express his great appreciation for what we are doing to help support Haiti.

Our family and friends - our donors - supporting us through the ride, and contributing to Outreach for the critical work in Haiti. Your support is amazing. So far this year, donations are over $20,000 and still coming in. For the seven years, donations are approaching $150,000!  Amazing!

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, and God bless you.

© 2021 Outreach to Haiti