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New Canaan riders to hit the road for ninth Annual CT Challenge Bike Ride

Published 6:23 pm, Friday, July 26, 2013
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When bikers hit the road for the ninth annual CT Challenge Bike Ride Friday and Saturday they may take for granted the course layout and support staff in place but it is the result of over a year of planning by race organizers to keep everything flowing smoothly.

Jon Stillwagen of Greenwich, along with his bosses at Elite Health Services Tri of Old Greenwich are among those that help out with the logistics of the race.

Stillwagen, who is working his third CT Challenge race, enjoys the event because people can see where the money goes at the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship in Southport, a building cancer survivors can go to exercise, learn about proper nutrition and receive mental support, which opened in 2012 in part due to funds raised by the CT Challenge.

"There are a million great charities but it is nice to see where the money is going rather than just giving money that goes to research," Stillwagen said. "There is a gym for caner survivors and a host of nutritionists and physical and mental counseling. The emphasis there is to get survivors in and teach them how to live a healthy life with cancer."

This year the Challenge has added an event Friday starting at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, winding through 80 miles of roads down to Fairfield.

Saturday riders begin in Westport and can choose between rides of 10, 25, 50, 75 or 100 miles, depending on their skill level.

Event organizers are expecting over 1500 riders over the two days and should raise upwards of $2 million which will benefit the center in Southport as well as other survivor programs.

"My focus is the logistics of the ride but they raise dollars that go all over the state and New England. It's not just limited to the center in Southport" Stillwagen said. "I'm under the direction of my bosses but covering 100 miles in multiple towns requires a ton of logistics and work, from getting permits and police to finding and scouting course, labeling it with informative and motivational signs and operating the 11 SAG that are there to support the riders having a hard time."

Nine years after the inaugural Bike Ride, the CT Challenge has grown to support programs that impacted over 54,000 cancer survivors last year, throughout the region and at any stage of their cancer journey: Programs that include the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship, The CT Challenge Survivorship Network of 19 hospitals and cancer centers throughout Connecticut; and community organizations like the Susan Fund that provides scholarships to help young cancer survivors attend college.

Each rider who participates has a minimum amount of funds to raise, depending on the ride distance.