MADISON, Conn. – Hundreds of cyclists will come out to Hammonasset State Park in Madison this September for one last summer beach party during the 14th annual Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride 2009, Presented by Mohegan Sun. Participants will pedal for a cure to end multiple sclerosis while cruising through miles of picturesque Connecticut shoreline.
“This route is so beautifully scenic,” said Peter Rusconi, owner of Cardio Express gyms – the title sponsor of the event. “For a long time I’ve been a big advocate for getting a route that’s flatter and easier for cyclists.”
Participants will stay overnight at Camp Hazen in Chester, where cyclists will be met with meals, games and other evening programs. Camp Hazen is surrounded by a beautiful lake, open fields and groomed pathways through the woods, with cabins well placed around the perimeter. The cabins are well-maintained and very clean, some with private facilities.
A resident of Vernon, Rusconi, 48, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004. Although he has few visible effects, he said MS presents a challenge, which is why Rusconi works with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis and support for those who live with the disease.
“The key to winning a fight against anything is awareness and that’s what Bike MS provides,” he said.
Funds raised through chapter events, such as Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride, Presented by Mohegan Sun, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents diagnosed with MS.
“The most important aspect of Bike MS is that it funds research for the disease and allows the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter to exist,” he said. “The MS Society is a way for people living with the disease to find help within their communities. It’s a great resource.”
Rusconi owns gyms in Manchester, Southington, Tolland, Vernon and Wethersfield so it’s no surprise he is an avid cyclist. This will be his fourth year participating in the Bike MS as the captain of his team, Cardio Express, and as the official spokesperson of the event.
Last year, Rusconi was the top fundraiser for the Bike MS: Mohegan Sun Ride, personally raising $9,939. His Cardio Express team raised the most money by a corporate team at $40,109, contributing to a grand total of $213,000 from the two-day event. The Cardio Express team was also the largest corporate team with 96 riders.
“Cardio Express staff members are very committed to the ride,” Rusconi said. “The great thing about owning a small business is that people really believe in your cause.”
During the 2008 Bike MS, participants not only helped in the battle against multiple sclerosis, but they fought their own against torrential rain. But, despite the weather, 175 people came out for the ride. One of those brave enough to weather the storm was Jimmy Lehn, a 97.7 WCTY radio personality – known on the air as Jimmy Lane.
Persuaded by his sister, Kathy Bingen, who was diagnosed with MS in 1990, Lehn, 47, joined the Bike MS event in 2002. Back then, Lehn knew very little about biking and actually bought a mountain bike for his first bike MS ride.
“I had no idea what to buy,” Lehn said. “I found out later a mountain bike was completely wrong for the ride.”
Lehn, a resident of Norwich, is no longer a novice cyclist and has come to love the sport. He has participated in the two-day event every year since 2002.
In fact, Lehn’s radio station 97.7 WCTY, where he has been on-air for the past ten years, is a media sponsor for Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride 2009. During his morning show, Lehn and his co-host, Shelly Martinez, regularly interview guests who have ties to MS to promote Connecticut Chapter events such as Bike MS and Walk MS.
Lehn was also a top fundraiser at last year’s bike event, raising $2,175. This year he will continue his yearly tradition and come out to Hammonasset State Park on Sept. 26. Lehn revealed that he was excited about the route change because he’ll have the opportunity to bike along the scenic shoreline. And he was not alone in that thought.
“Because it’s such a fantastic route, I think it will be our biggest year ever,” agreed Rusconi. “I bet we double our turnout from last year.”
The change in route will appeal to most riders, particularly those new to cycling or those who haven’t ridden in a while.
“Less experienced riders should have no problem with the Hammonasset route,” said Jessica Tedford, development coordinator for the Connecticut Chapter and one of the event coordinators for Bike MS. “The course is very flat, with few hills, so we expect many people to come out. Bike MS is a great way for people to experience a very beautiful part of Connecticut, while supporting a worthy cause.”
For a third year, WTNH News Channel 8 morning anchor Darren Kramer will saddle up to serve as the Bike MS grand marshal. Kramer, whose mother-in-law lives with multiple sclerosis, will ride in this year’s event on Rusconi’s Cardio Fitness team.
“It will be great to ride on Peter's team,” said Kramer, a Madison resident. “His courage and leadership in the fight against MS are inspiring. Just hope I can keep up with him."
To register for bike MS: Cardio Express Ride, Presented by Mohegan Sun, please visit www.bikeMSconnecticut.org or call 860.714.2300. The registration fee is $80. All meals and the overnight stay are included in the registration fee.
For more information or to volunteer please contact Jessica Tedford at 860-913-2550, ext 227, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Ride
The two-day bike MS: Cardio Express Ride 2009, Presented by Mohegan Sun will start at Hammonasset State Park in Madison Saturday, Sept. 26. Participants will stay overnight at Camp Hazen in Chester, where cyclists will be met with meals, games and other evening programs.
Camp Hazen is surrounded by a beautiful lake, open fields and groomed pathways through the woods, with cabins well placed around the perimeter. The cabins are well-maintained and very clean, some with private facilities.
Bikers have their choice of completing a 25-, 50- or 75-mile route each day. Routes wind through southeastern Connecticut’s breathtaking shoreline and countryside. At the finish line, cyclists will be welcomed by a beach party and a barbeque.
Over the past 14 years, more than 2,000 cyclists have pedaled more than 200,000 miles to raise roughly $1 million to support local chapter programs and services and scientific research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.