Riders, spectators are the stars of the 18th CT United Ride

Lisa Romanchick photos
The rain held off, the crowds turned out, and a small army of volunteers made this year’s CT United Ride run smoothly despite some significant logistical challenges, said ride organizer Fred Garrity.

The ride, which is a 9/11 tribute and fund-raiser for the state’s emergency responders, drew about 1,500 participants for the 60-mile run through 10 towns from Norwalk to Bridgeport’s Seaside Park. Garrity said showers in the morning probably kept some riders from coming out.

“We had some large groups from New York, like always, and it was great, but if people live a little farther away and have to leave early, they don’t want to ride in the rain, do a 60-mile ride, then ride back home in the rain,” Garrity said.

The organization on the day of the ride was the best yet, Garrity said. He attributed that the planning meetings that included officials from all 10 towns, plus State Police Troop G.

“When you have the thousands of riders, plus the motorcycle police escort, and the fire departments in 10 towns, and the people lining the route to watch, that’s a lot of moving parts,” he said.

The only notable negatives were a rider and passenger who escaped serious injury after hitting a pothole and falling in Fairfield, and cars again attempting to cut into the line of riders. This has been an ongoing problem for several years, but Garrity said having police riding at the front, middle and end of the line made it less of an issue than previous years.

On the plus side, most of the riders heeded organizers’ suggestion to register in advance, and the pre-ride ceremony featuring the reflections of Gold Star families and longtime ride supporter Daniel Geraghty, was an inspiration, Garrity said.

“I was inspired, and proud of the respect that everyone showed for the speakers,” Garrity said.

Geraghty, a Ground Zero survivor, was added to the program this year after riders in previous years had noticed him standing in front of St. Theresa Church holding a sign year after year. His personal recollections of the sights, smells, and sounds of that day added poignancy to the event, Garrity said. Spectators, estimated at about 10,000, also made the ride special with their cheering and waving for the duration of the ride, he said.

Finally, having just completed the 18th annual ride, it is natural to begin to wonder how much longer the event would continue. Garrity said he was already planning the next two rides, which will take place the last Sunday in August to avoid conflicting with Labor Day. The year after that the 20th anniversary ride will fall on Sunday, Sept, 11.

“Right now, that’s the goal, the 21st annual CT United Ride (the first ride was held 17 days after the 9/11 attacks) on the 20th anniversary of the day,” Garrity said. “Then we’ll gauge how much interest there is continuing. Right now, turnout is consistent, the riders that come, come back. I think it’s pretty meaningful to people.”