Today’s ride started with a short trip to Liberty Park in Waterbury for the morning’s opening ceremony. The community here had lost one of their own this past year and representatives from EMS agencies across the state were on hand for the remembrance. An honor guard from Waterbury Police stood watch while local officials thanked us for participating in the memorial ride.
As with all of our stops, signs containing the names, photos, and history of the fallen were placed for view. They served as a constant reminder, both of the risks of this profession and of the reason why we continue.
As part of the ceremony, American Medical Response displayed their restored Cadillac hearse ambulance. These vehicles were common in the early days of EMS when local first aid crews were birthed out of civic organizations in cooperation with local funeral homes. AMR also helped sponsor the EMS Memorial Bike Ride.
Over the last 24 hours, I’d been having increased difficulty shifting with my front derailleur. For much of the ride yesterday I had been frequently adjusting the shift cable tension, believing it to be out of calibration. When I checked today prior to our departure, I noticed instead that a rivet had broken on the derailleur cage, causing the normally stiff box to flex, greatly inhibiting the chain’s movement between chainrings.
I also noticed that what I first thought was mud on my rear tire after riding through the park, was actually the tire’s subtread. Miles of sometimes less then gentle usage had finally taken its toll and completely worn away part of the tread surface.
With no time to find a bike shop I pushed on, limping through gears and hoping against a blowout. I could have picked up a support truck but there was a special stop for us ahead and I wanted to get there on two wheels.
On the way, enjoying the beautiful route and the lack of any equipment failures, I decided to take some self portraits. With my duck leading the way and my head held high, I ride.
Our destination this afternoon was Newtown, Connecticut. As I’m sure you know, Newtown was the site of tragedy on December 14, 2012 when a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a responder to the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16, 2007, the Sandy Hook incident weighed heavily on my heart and I was honored to meet the men and women of Newtown who reacted so bravely to this horrific attack on their community.
The tiny rubber ducks we’ve been carrying with us on the ride are a tribute. Not only to the fallen but to those who remain and continue to live, work, and serve their community. If you have time, please read the post, The Ducks Of Sandy Hook Elementary, which explains the story behind this small token of support.
Both Newtown Hook & Ladder Co. #1 and Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps offered gracious hospitality during our stay. We were honored to be able to present Newtown Ambulance with a signed banner adorned with the phrase that has become the town’s unified response to the tragedy: We Choose Love.
Leaving Newtown, my bike’s shifting issue continued to deteriorate. Given that and yesterday’s heat stroke, a support vehicle was in order for the remainder of the ride until we meet our buses to take us into New York City.
After arriving in Manhattan, we hit the streets of New York to find the Empire State Building lit blue in honor of EMS Week.