Greenwich-based Yellow Jersey Cycle ready for the CT Challenge

Members of Yellow Jersey Cycle in Greenwich pose for a team photo. In the back row from left is Antonio Dajer, James Cofer, Michael Brock, Ed Nolan, Donna Nickitas and John Palmer. In the front row is James Gibian, Shan Brock and Max Lippolis.

Members of Yellow Jersey Cycle in Greenwich pose for a team photo. In the back row from left is Antonio Dajer, James Cofer, Michael Brock, Ed Nolan, Donna Nickitas and John Palmer. In the front row is James Gibian, Shan Brock and Max Lippolis.

For the Greenwich-based Yellow Jersey Bike Shop owner Max Lippolis, riding in the CT Challenge Bike Ride is something that he knew he had to do.

And with 11 other riders ready to compete in a 75-mile bicycle journey throughout Western Connecticut and parts of New York, Lippolis and team Yellow Jersey Cycle, are gearing up to conquer the course and raise money for cancer survivors.

“I am bringing awareness and raising money for cancer survivors,” said Old Greenwich resident James Cofer, one of the main riders of Yellow Jersey Cycle. “We all know people who are ill and are living with cancer or we’ve lost people to cancer. To raise money and getting people to talk about helping people out who are afflicted with cancer is important. It makes you feel good because you’re contributing to a good cause. Plus it is fun to ride. It works on all levels.”

In addition to Lippolis and Cofer, members of the Yellow Jersey Cycle team include John Palmer, Michael Brock, Antonio Dajer, James Gibian, Pieter Kodde, James Meehan, Donna Nickitas, Ed Nolan, Michael Santini, Mark Sweeney. The Yellow Jersey Cycle ream plans on competing in the 75-mile bike ride.

The CT Challenge Bike Ride is a two-day event that starts July 25. The full 100-mile ride starts Friday in Lakeville and travel through several towns including Kent, New Fairfield, Carmel, N.Y., Danbury, Ridgefield and Weston before finishing up in Westport at the Fairfield Hunt Club.

Team Yellow Jersey Cycle will compete on Saturday during the 75-mile main ride, which starts and finishes in Westport.

“I don’t know anybody that doesn’t know someone that has been challenged with cancer,” said Palmer, a resident of Old Greenwich. “This is a ride for everybody, to bring awareness and hope for survivors. We are riding for two people that we know and it’s a great thing.”

The CT Challenge is dedicated to helping the 14 million cancer survivors in Connecticut and throughout the country live healthier, happier, longer lives through fitness, nutrition, mind-body health and community-building support programs.

Yellow Jersey Cycle will be riding for Shan Brock and Elyse Screnci, two people that are currently fighting cancer. Screnci is battling brain cancer and Brock is fighting colon cancer.

“It’s really rewarding, especially since we’ve been able to put a face on it with Shan and Elyse,” Lippolis said. “We also have been effective in being able to rally our friends and get them to support to this ride means everything to me. We are giving back, not only to cancer survivors, but to cyclists who are cancer survivors. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Prepping for the ride, members of the team get up bright and early each morning for a brisk 5:45 a.m. bike ride that lasts 20 miles and gives the riders just enough time to get ready for work and catch the 7:30 a.m. train into New York City. On weekends, the riders get together and bike close to 50 miles.

“We are getting everybody used to doing 50 to 60 miles,” Palmer said. “If you can do 60, you can do 75 miles. It’s just mental at that point. We have a fun time riding together and it’s a good group of guys. We are not the fastest group in town, but we never leave anybody behind and we always stay together. We always have a lot of laughs on the rides.”

“I have to careful not to go too fast in the beginning and I  have to stay close to my good friend John Palmer because he has a great sense of humor,” Cofer said. “It will help me get through the ride.”

For Lippolis, the hardest part of the 75-mile bike ride will be keeping pace with his teammates. It’s not that he will be trailing the pack, far from it. Lippolis is a competitive cyclist has battled in races throughout the Northeast and he said he could possibly compete the CT Challenge course in around three hours.

“I’m blessed with the lifestyle that allows me to ride a lot and race a lot,” Lippolis said. “The physical part won’t be as much of a challenge. I’m going to gather the group and keep them together as much as possible. I will be motivating people to stay with our group so we can keep them together for as long as possible. It will be tougher for the less experienced riders in the later part of the race.”

Lippolis is also the owner of Yellow Jersey Bike Shop on North Street in the backcountry. He opened the store in November. However, he’s no stranger to the community.

“I had a mobile business for the past four years called The Traveling Bike Shop and it still exists,” Lippolis said. “It’s a traveling business where I go to people’s homes and businesses. I have a saying that my clients are my friends and my friends are my clients. That’s the way I run my business and how I approach life. Cycling is a part of my life and I am thrilled to be a part of the Connecticut Challenge with my friends.”

The Yellow Jersey Cycle team tends to ride throughout Old Greenwich fairly regularly, however they do two longer rides per year. For the past two years, the team has hit the pavement for the ALS Express Bike Ride, which runs from Boston to Greenwich. This year they’ve agreed to stay local and help the CT Challenge.

Lippolis had a meeting with co-founder of the CT Challenge Jeff Keith back in March. Having a small business that was bike-related and interacting with a plethora of cyclists from around the area, Lippolis thought it was important for him to get involved in the Connecticut Challenge.

“I wanted to do something to give back in a way that could be helpful,” Lippolis said. “Given that I am a small business, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do all the bike support for the event. I didn’t have the manpower, but I still wanted to help in a big way somehow. I thought about the best way to get involved in the first year for me was to put a good bunch of guys together that were committed to the event and the cause, but also committed to fund raising as much money as possible for this great cause.”

As a group, Yellow Jersey Cycle has raised over $17,300 for the Connecticut Challenge and cancer survivors.

To donate and help Yellow Jersey Cycle achieve its team goal of $20,000, the team is asking people to donate on Cofer’s CT Challenge page by visiting Bike.ctchallenge.org or clicking here. Once at the website, click “Rider & Team Search” on the right of the page. From there type Cofer’s name in and donate.

Cofer works for Bloomberg L.P. out of New York City, and they are generously supporting his efforts to raise money by matching any money that he raises in terms of people sponsoring his ride up to $5,000.

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