The 2013 Coast to Coast for a Cure cycling team is back in Connecticut, arriving six weeks and a day after landing in San Francisco. That’s a new record for the nearly 4,000-mile cross-country ride that’s been completed by a different group of students each year since 2006.
Thinner and darker-skinned than when they left June 12, UConn dental student Dan Beauvais and UConn medical student Pat Field arrived at the UConn Health Center to the cheers of friends and family Thursday evening. A Farmington police cruiser trailed them up the hill and they pulled into the academic entrance riding side-by-side, each holding the end of an American flag.
“We just had the mentality that every mile counts, and at the end of the day we were tired, but sometimes if we saw another town 10 or 15 miles ahead, we’d just go for it,” Field says. “We just kept pushing and pushing and just tried to get as far as we could every day.”
“Once we were past the Rockies we just tried to set a minimum of 100 miles per day, and if we were feeling good, we just pushed, and most days we felt fine,” Beauvais says. “We really just kept home in mind and we were able to do it.”
Beauvais and Field make up the eighth group of students to tackle what has become an annual UConn School of Medicine tradition to raise money for Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research, a Hartford nonprofit and philanthropic supporter of UConn’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The rising second-year students say cycling coast to coast was a lot harder than they thought it would be.
“I always thought that you could kind of pedal nonchalantly and just relax and go slowly but it wasn’t like that,” Field says. “If you wanted to get to your destination you had to really work for it.”
“I thought we’d be going at a pretty easy pace all day, we would be coasting and talking, but when you’re riding with 40 pounds of gear on your bike and you’re going up a hill, you really have to work hard,” says Beauvais, the first dental student to complete the ride. “But also, I really couldn’t imagine how eye-opening this trip was, just meeting different people, seeing how people in different parts of this country live, their outlooks, all the beautiful scenery that you can see just in this country, it’s amazing.”
Along the way the riders kept a blog with daily updates, photos and videos of the people and places they encountered: http://coasttocoastforacure2013.blogspot.com.
“It was very cool meeting people of a lot of different cultures, different lifestyles in general, it’s like a different world out there,” Field says. “On a bike ride you see the entire country from one point to the other, so we visited places that normally people don’t visit and we got to see their perspective on life and see how they lived.”
Field and Beauvais have managed to raise several thousand dollars so far. The campaign is still open, and anyone wishing to support the 2013 Coast to Coast for a Cure is asked to go to http://leasfoundation.org/events, find the “Coast to Coast” box, and click “Donate.”
The early homecoming leaves them with about three weeks before the fall semester starts.
“I’ll probably be lazy for a couple of days at least, but I’m hoping that the drive I’ve built up over the last six weeks sort of carries over into the rest of the summer and into the school year,” Beauvais says.
Field says the trip taught him a lesson in productivity.
“It’s amazing how much you can get done; in six weeks we got across the country. For the rest of my life if I apply this mentality of working hard and pushing through…We were very efficient on this trip, and if I apply that efficiency to my life, it will be cool to see what I could do as a doctor.”
Coast to Coast for a Cure officially ends Aug. 24, when the riders—and anyone who wants to join them—pedal a final 40 miles from the UConn Health Center to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. There, Field and Beauvais officially end the ride by dipping their tires in the Atlantic Ocean, with a celebration at nearby Malone’s Restaurant to follow.