Slice of Hope 2013 was particularly memorable thanks not only to the bucolic New England scenery, but because of the great pizzeria support we encountered in the Northeast and nationally. In an effort to raise money for the Karen Mullen Breast cancer Foundation, the Slice of Hope cycling crew spent four days riding from Newport, Rhode island, to Portland, Maine, October 9-12. Along the way we visited scores of pizzerias in the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. It was a blast. But, more importantly, it helped hundreds of pizzerias from coast to coast unite their communities in a way that can’t be done with traditional marketing.
Watch this Slice of Hope 2013 Recap!
A big thanks to all of the pizzerias who participated in Slice of Hope 2013.
Pizzerias across the country found their own unique ways to celebrate Slice of Hope 2013. When we asked them send us photos from their events. Here’s what we received:
Pizzerias were not the only ones having a great time while raising awareness for breast cancer research. The Slice of Hope cycling crew pedaled their way around New England. Experience the ride with Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White’s daily SOH journal.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013: We arrived in Newport, Rhode Island this afternoon. The weather is nice and unseasonably warm. I haven’t been in Newport since I was about 16. I forgot how beautiful it is.
Creative Director Rick Daugherty has been appointed as the lead mechanic this trip. No one else has the skills! He assembled the bikes earlier today and we surveyed the land. Looks like the ride through Newport is going to take us right along the coast much of the way.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013: Slice of Hope Day 1 was a good one. We started with a hearty breakfast, made last-minute tweaks to the bikes and got an early start. The wind along the ocean was challenging, particularly in a few stretches. The ride was scenic and beautiful, but took a lot out of us.
We kicked off Slice of Hope 2013 by departing directly from the beach in Middletown, Rhode Island. Our ride took us through Newport and a few other sleepy little New England hamlets. It’s very quaint here, though it seems to more or less shut down after Labor Day with the exception of Fall tourists who come to see the foliage. The leaves haven’t turned yet, though I’m told we’re going to see them at their spectacular peak when we get up into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine in a few days.
I did interviews with several media outlets in the afternoon following the ride. They asked very good questions about the pizza industry and Slice of Hope. It’s great to see that the participating pizzerias are getting the good PR and recognition they deserve in their communities for supporting this very worthy cause.
Thursday, October 10, 2013: Day 2 has been one of the most memorable in Slice of Hope tour history. The ride was unexpectedly beautiful.
We started off in Western Massachusetts. And, to my knowledge, the route was not going to take us outside of the state that day. We must have made a wrong turn or something, but I’m sure glad we did.
It was a cold morning, so we waited until nearly 10 to hit the road. I was prepared for the elements. I brought all the necessary cold weather and rain gear with me (though we’ve been lucky and have avoided rain and have had only one cold day so far).
Honestly, I had low expectations for the value of the scenery we were going to take in on Day 2. The area immediately surrounding our starting point was nothing to write home about.
The ride started with a modest climb. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a small incline that got our legs warmed up. We made a turn here and a turn there and then we were off. We passed some low lands and then the landscape started looking remarkably like southern Indiana and Kentucky. I felt right at home and was really enjoying the pedaling.
The route took us past a lot of pastoral settings that really represent the best of what New England is all about. There were farms and apple orchards and lots of quaint homes decorated for Halloween. It was a perfect fall day. The air was brisk and the scent of apples and cinnamon weeds and freshly fallen leaves filled the air.
Eventually, I realized that we were in Connecticut. Umm … ok. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Oh, well …Let’s just go with it and see what happens, I decided.
What happened was one of the best rides I’ve ever had.
A couple of hours in we were forced to deal with a beast known as Dragon Rock. I think it must be called that by local cyclists because your lungs are screaming and forcing you to breath fire once you reach the top. Anyway, though it was rough, we finally did reach the top. And when we did, my legs were shot. I had to take a few minutes to have an energy bar and a Gatorade and just plain rest. But the view up there was spectacularly bucolic. I felt like I’d stepped into a Robert Frost poem or went back to 1800 or perhaps was even in Ireland. The ancient rock fences and apple orchards were spectacular. The leaves were tinged with Autumn’s colors. I wanted to lay down in one of the fields and sleep!
The whole time were were climbing Dragon Rock I kept saying to myself, “what goes up must come down … what goes up must come down.” I knew eventually there would be a payoff. I just didn’t know how big it would be.
After a series of winding roads and hills and dips, there it was: the most beautiful descent I’ve ever enjoyed. The road was smooth, the grade was just right and both sides of the road was picturesque. I flew past gorgeous fall trees and ponds and vintage New England homes.
After that descent, I was elated. We had flat ground and then another series of small rises. On a normal day I would have attacked them vigorously, but I quickly found that my legs were absolutely shot after climbing Dragon Rock. So I backed off a bit and took it easy.
Eventually we spotted a familiar road and took it. Maybe 15 miles later we passed a sign welcoming us back to Massachusetts. You know, had Connecticut welcomed us, perhaps we would have turned around. I’m grateful we were ignorant of our path.
After the ride was finished for the day we stopped in at a handful of pizzerias to thank the owners for their support. They had their shops all decked out in pink and proudly displayed Slice of Hope posters, table tents, etc. Most of them had their staff wearing Slice of Hope t-shirts.
We finished the night with my friend Tony Caputo. His family hosted us for a Slice of Hope reception in their beautiful restaurant, Red Rose Pizzeria in Springfield, Mass. Several of Tony’s customers came up to me and the other riders during the meal to thank us for raising money in the battle against breast cancer. I’ll never forget one man who sat down next to me and tearfully told me the story of his wife, who fought the disease for three years before it finally got the best of her just this past summer.
I noticed no fewer than a dozen customers seek Tony out to thank him for supporting this cause in his pizzeria. Again, it warmed my heart to see firsthand just how the Slice of Hope participants benefit from their involvement.
Friday, October 11, 2013: Once again, the stunning New England scenery amazes the riders! Today we went through farmland and pastures before eventually circling a pair of lighthouses on the rocky Maine coast. We ended the day in Portland, Maine, just as the daylight was expiring. The ride on this day was challenging and all the cyclists were pretty beat at its conclusion. I think we all took naps before eventually enjoying some of Portland’s excellent seafood.
Saturday, October 12, 2013: The final day of Slice of Hope 2013 was a blast! We tested our legs in the mountains of Vermont. Autumn was definitely in the air as it was chilly (but not too cold). The ride ended at Goodman’s American Pie, a wonderful wood-fired pizzeria in the sleepy Vermont town of Ludlow. The skiers hadn’t yet descended on the area, so we pretty much had the town to ourselves.
And a good portion of the town, it seems, came out to Goodman’s that night to celebrate Slice of Hope with us and support the cause. Owner Craig Goodman had a live band, a vintage car show and other family friendly activities lined up. Though we were drained from riding in the mountains, we ended up staying at Goodman’s later than we had planned that night simply because we were having such a great time watching Craig work the oven and interact with his customers.
If you participated in Slice of Hope 2013, please accept our sincere thanks for making it a success. We hope you benefitted from the same amount of goodwill and community support that we saw New England pizzerias receive during the ride. Here’s to you! And here’s to making Slice of Hope 2014 an even bigger success.
Happy New Year!
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