Anchor House Ride for Runaway Children Day 1, 2, 3

Standing on the bridge over the Potomac River (I think) separating Virginia from Maryland, approaching Antiem, VA

Anchor House Day 1, 2 & 3

Day 3 is in the books and we have knocked out 230 out of 500 miles.  Day 1 & 2 were beastly days that simply whipped me, Day 3 simply put was “AWESOME!!”  So many things to let you know about the past three days but the most important is why I do the ride and it comes in five words, “It is for the Kids”.

Each day as you ride you here another story about the amazing things the kids that enter the Anchor House system are able to achieve.  I know how much a difference this ride makes and it warms my heart to see a charity impact lives and produce lifelong stories.  Every dollar I raise, every mile I ride makes a difference and everyone doing the ride knows it.  The Anchor House community is tight and it makes the world of difference especially on those tough days like Days 1 & 2.

Day 1 & 2

Two days of 80 mile rides through brutal hills with an incredible amount of elevation caused everyone to be somewhat distressed.  The fact that I was totally beat did not deter me and watching everyone else have issues made me feel better.  It is not really a good thing to feed off of others issues but the reality is on these two days, especially Day 2 I did.

Without question

Virginia is everything I remember from when I rode cross country two summers ago.  I remember the rollers and some of the harder elevations.  I remember loving the riding but after riding 4,000 miles in 2012 it became somewhat of a blur.  Day 1 started on the route I rode on Day 5 in 2012 but in the opposite direction.  On Day 5 in 2012 we stayed at Gertie’s Store, which is a real country store and is a hoot.  They were closed on Sunday as we used there grounds as a rest stop.  I had no idea we were stopping there but the memories came flooding back.  This was the place that Dylan, my RV driver got the RV stuck in the mud, well he claims it was never stuck, but……

The ride through Virginia was breathtaking.  Ridges, valleys, streams, farmland, orchards, rolling hills with the Shenandoah mountains off to the right.  We meandered north from Lexington, VA crisscrossing Route 81 but always on country roads.  Rarely have we encountered busy traffic, just lazy country roads.

Where ever we looked was another incredible view.  And with the great riding came great people.  On Sunday and Monday I rode with Steve Preville, my roommate, my friend, basically my second brother.  We are like to old ladies but without question we are totally compatible.  Similar riding styles matched with personalities of our wives.  Steve is just like my wife Laura and for the most part I am like his wife Tina.  It is pretty funny watching the two of us when we go away like this. But, as always we have had an amazing time.  And to top it off we are always matching in our jerseys and shorts.  Sporting either our Anchor House or Cooper jerseys we are the fashion statement.

The Cooper jerseys also bring out the Cooper Pest raving fans.  I bet there are at least 30 people on this ride out of the 200 that have tracked me down all excited about the amazing job we do for them.  Many want to get their hands on our really cool Cooper jerseys.  Others just want to tell me their raving stories about our service and the best is when they know the names of their techs like Melvin, Karen, Joel….  To be able to say with a smile that I work with the best people in the world is a great thing and I do!!!

I have also been anointed for another year as the man in charge of food. To me when you burn over 5,000 calories in a day food is a top priority.  Saturday night we went out for a nice dinner in the town of Lexington with two of the other riders, Niall (pronounced Neal) and Chris.  If you are in Lexington I suggest you go to the Southern Inn, it is outstanding.  Sunday was the first day and I was whipped when we arrived in Harrisonburg.  Along the highway we were not near town and I was in no mood to find something to eat.  Luckily Applebees was across the street where I ordered the 2 for $25, that is 2 entrees for $25, Steak and Mac & Cheese.  That was for me, not Steve and I!!!

But Monday night it was back to finding good eats in Winchester the food of choice is the Union Jack, a British Pub that took the day.  Fish & Chips were great but the real ticket at this place is their half chicken which Chris ate.  To get to this place Steve and I had to hop a cab as our hotel was 1.7 miles away from the host hotel the George Washington which is in downtown Winchester.

I feel really bad for our amazing support team when they have to deal with two hotels separated by 1.7 miles.  They do it with a smile but moving the luggage around and making sure everyone is taken care of is their top priority.

As Day 2 wound down and we entered Winchester I was feeling better than Day 1 but still pretty whipped.  The day was one of the tougher rides I have done in the past 3 years and it wore on everyone.  The terrain was super tough, with some very steep ascents.  Many bikers were walking up the hills but not us.  At one point I thought about it and Steve promptly reminded me if I got off the bike he would kick my butt!!!  No worries, I just kept pedaling.

A bit tired but feeling good we entered Winchester and on the right side what would you know but I saw a historical marker for Patsy Cline (the country singers) house where she grew up.  Steve was desperate for a picture so we stopped.  The white clapboard house was tucked alongside lots of small homes lining the street.  A quick photo of Steve next to the marker was in order but then drops of water started falling from the sky.  Being less than 1.5 miles to the host hotel the George Washington I ordered Steve back on his bike.

Good thing I was bossy because the sky started to rumble and as we pulled into the parking garage still basically dry the skies opened up.  Most of the riders huddled in the covered parking garage of the hotel as the remaining riders gradually came in, wet and soggy having come through a rain storm of biblical proportions.

A couple of beers and about 45 minutes and the window of opportunity presented itself to ride to our hotel.  From there it was time to figure out dinner, call Polly’s Cab service to pick us up, deliver us to the downtown Winchester walking mall and over to the Union Jack.  The walking mall is pretty nice, the road is closed and is now a large brick walkway that cover four city blocks.  By the time we got there on Monday night at 6p everything was shut down.  I guess that is what happens down here, it is definitely not like home.

Niall and Chris met Steve and I at the Union Jack and consumed large portions of food, good quantities of beer and prepared for the ride Monday.  I guess the Quesa with Bangers and the Chicken Wings did not agree with Steve too much as he was in and out of the bathroom as we prepared for our ride Tuesday.

Winchester to Hagerstown, MD Tuesday July 15

Tuesday morning started at 5a as we knew we needed to get up, go through our morning rituals of coffee, putting our bike clothes on, packing up, getting our luggage downstairs and a quick breakfast before going back to grab our bikes.  Since we had to ride back to downtown Winchester and add to that we were meeting Niall and Chris at 7:15 we had to be on our game.  The last three days of hotels has been quite nice as we have lucked out and have been in Hampton Inns Sunday, Monday and today (Tuesday).  I am always on the far bed and Steve closest to the bathroom.  Good thing for him this morning as he needed to be there!!!

Today’s ride simply rocked.  We only had to go 70 miles and terrain was not tough at all.  Have the amount of climbing from Monday and it made for fun riding.  Steve and I rode with Niall and Chris all day and we also hooked up with a bunch of other riders.  Riding through the farms where the Civil War was fought made you wonder what it was like between 1861 & 1865.

We stopped for some pictures at the West Virginia border and then again at Antiem, MD the bloodiest battle in the Civil War and one of the bloodiest in military history.  Markers were everywhere over a 2 mile stretch.

Approaching Antiem we crossed the Virginia and Maryland border and an beautiful view over a river.  You would think I would know the body of water we crossed over but I do not and I have not looked it up so that will be your homework for the day.

A few pictures with the group of 7 or so riders and a quick bike over my head photo and we were back on.  Some more pictures in Antiem and then Steve’s tire lost its air.  Now this was one hard tire to fix, of course it was the back wheel which is a bit harder with getting on and off with the chain but the real hard part was his tire.  Usually, I can get a tire off with relative ease but this tire was brand new and just would not come off.  A 5-10 minute tire change turned into a 30 minute debacle.  But our diligence paid off and on we would ride again.

And finally, for the humorous bug note of the ride.  During the first two days I got stung twice once on the stomach and the other on my thigh.  Guess the bees are paying me back for years of hurting their brethren.  Oh well paybacks are wonderful!!!  Their friends better watch out as I have 42 ladies and gentleman prepared to put a hurting to the yellow jackets in PA & NJ!!!

So that leaves us to tonight.  I have a cab picking us up at 6:25, a short hop over the Comfort Inn to get our eating buddies Niall and Chris and onward to an Italian Restaurant, Dolce.  I took my time examining the Yelp Reviews today and I think this place is a winner.  I have a reputation to uphold as I have been perfect on our eating selections so far.  I hope my luck holds out!!!

Tomorrow get’s easier, a 57 miles how much easier does it get  Until then……

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Downtown Winchester, VA walking mall

Downtown Winchester, VA walking mall

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Marker Mill Orchards, Final Rest Stop Day 2 Mile 69.  Definitely stop here when near Winchester, VA

Marker Mill Orchards, Final Rest Stop Day 2 Mile 69. Definitely stop here when near Winchester, VA

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Day 2 Rest Stop

Day 2 Rest Stop

As in all states the poles are well marked for electric VEPCO

As in all states the poles are well marked for electric VEPCO

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Supoort van and map of our ride from Lexington, VA to Lawrenceville, NJ 500 miles

Supoort van and map of our ride from Lexington, VA to Lawrenceville, NJ 500 miles

Gertie's Store, in Vesuvius, VA I stayed behind the store in 2012 and our first rest stop for the 2014 Anchor House Ride.  What Memories

Gertie’s Store, in Vesuvius, VA I stayed behind the store in 2012 and our first rest stop for the 2014 Anchor House Ride. What Memories

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$1,313 in tips for MS, who say’s 13 is unlucky, way too cool!!!

Inspiring others, raising awareness of causes and helping those in need while having a great time is in my books a recipe for success.  I knew guest bar tending would be fun but it is even beyond my wildest expectations.

On Sunday April 6, we raised $1,313 for Multiple Sclerosis at Diamonds and simply had a blast.  So on this great Sunday the number 13 was a lucky number.  $1313 in donations, $13 more than the $1300 we raised on February 23 (OK so 23 is not 13 but there is a three in there).  Fortunately more than 13 people showed, approximately 40 people showed up and it was a WIN-WIN for everyone.  All the people that came had a great time chatting with me and mingling with the various guests.

What is so cool is that I have people coming from so many different parts of my life, Spin Students, clients, Cooper teammates, Cooper Pest vendors, Rotarians, friends, family and people who heard of it.  So people gathered, made new friends, had a few drinks, ate some amazing food and then tipped as normal (well maybe a little more!!) and went home with a smile on their face.

In the meantime while my guests were having a great time, I was behind the bar living the dream.  Bartending is in my blood but so are so many other things.  When I can do something I love or want to do and can combine it to help others, well it does not get better.

My ace in the hole at Diamonds was Cynthia Stark.  Cynthia’s day job is with Allies, Inc. but on the side she is a bartender and on Sunday she was my coach.  She took me under her wing and was with me every step of the way.  But even more special is that Cynthia also is a victim of MS.  When I arrived at 1:30 to prep for the day Cynthia handed me an envelope from work with contributions her teammates made on her behalf for my cause.  Over $250 was raised all going into the tip jar.  And it goes a bit further as one of the co-owners of Diamonds, Philomena Zucchetti also works at Allies with Cynthia.  It never ceases to amaze me how small the world is.  The other cool touch was a gift card to Diamond’s that Philomena raffled off.

Cynthia Stark, my bartending coach, sporting her Cooper Bike the US for MS jersey

Cynthia Stark, my bartending coach, sporting her Cooper Bike the US for MS jersey

A big thank you to Tommy & Anthony Zucchetti for making the day so amazing. The Zucchetti’s were gracious hosts and promoted the event over the past several weeks…and it worked!!  As the day wound down, I met a wonderful family who lives in Pennington who are on the Diamond’s email list.  They heard of the event and brought in their family for dinner and to give me a donation of $100.  The wife, in her 40s is also a victim of MS.  When people with the disease end up giving me donations I am blown away as it is for them that I fund raise and tears come to my eyes when they are the ones contributing.

Back to fun with bar tending….with Cynthia at my side I just honed my bar tending skills.  Frank, the normal bartender was there to help me with some of the cash register items and to encourage me on.  But Cynthia had me rocking and rolling.  Once again, it was more than just making drinks.  I was able to use their glass washer, set out the glasses, work the register and simply work, work, work.

And as the consummate bartender I did a lot of chatting with my friends and the regulars.  These gigs could become contagious.

Cynthia, Frank and I all sported our Cooper 2012 bike jersey worn for the cross country ride.  Each has kept the jersey and are making plans on wearing them again.  Just as neat was a shirt Cynthia made up to tell the world that she has MS.  Patrons of the bar never knew, now they do.  And I promised to Cynthia, that I will continue to work tirelessly on her behalf until she no longer has to battle this insipid disease.

And as always, none of this would be possible without the support of my anchor and rock, the lovely Laura Cooper.  Thank you Coop!!! So, as I prepare for my last gig of the spring on April 27 2p-6p at The Cool Cricket in Fieldsboro, NJ it is your erstwhile bartender signing off.  Hope to see you on the 27th.  Phil

(from right to left) Ed, my spin student; Laura, my wife :), Bette Stewart, my role model and massive MS fundraiser, Lauren Trager, MS Society teammate and my biggest cheerleader; Lauren's finacee Brian who she drags everywhere!!!

(from right to left) Ed, my spin student at Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Wellness & Fitness; Laura, my wife :) , Bette Stewart, my role model and massive MS fundraiser, Lauren Trager, MS Society teammate and my biggest cheerleader; Lauren’s finacee Brian who she drags everywhere!!!

Robin & Ron Geherty at their best!!!

Robin & Ron Geherty at their best!!!

Phil chatting with dinner guests

Phil chatting with dinner guests

Phil Cooper wins Corporate Citizen of the Year

From an early age Phil Cooper was always taught about the importance of charitable giving by his parents. Cooper’s philanthropic efforts were recently recognized by NJBIZ when he was named the 2013 Corporate Citizen of the Year.  Cooper was among 15 nominees in the Corporate Citizen of the Year category, which was then narrowed down to six finalists. The business of the year program celebrates New Jersey’s most dynamic businesses and business leaders who share a commitment to professional excellence, business growth and community.

“As corporate leaders there comes great responsibility to be great corporate citizens; tirelessly promoting diversity, helping those in need and raising awareness for civic, charitable and health causes,” says Cooper, CEO of Cooper Pest Solutions, home of BedBug Central in Lawrenceville, NJ.

 

In the summer of 2012, Cooper set out on a journey that would change his life forever. He would cycle across the country with the Bike the US for MS team, from Yorktown, VA to San Francisco, CA. The team rode a total of 3,780 miles, traveling through nine states that summer, but most importantly Cooper would go on to raise $50,000 for the National MS Society.

He was so successful in his efforts to bring awareness and crucially needed funds to the National MS Society with his ride in 2012 that he decided to do it again in 2013. This time Cooper would set out to be the champion for five local and national charities; Anchor House Ride for Runaways, MS150 City to Shore, American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure & the 2013 LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly, Cooper also hooked up with the last leg of the Bike the US for MS ride from Montana to Seattle, WA.

Cooper is humbled by this win and takes great pride in the recognition of his efforts.

A Sad Day for the LIVESTRONG Foundation

Sunday August 18, was a sad day for the Livestrong Foundation and all the good it does; I witnessed firsthand how severely Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace has affected the Foundation on the Livestrong Challenge Philly ride.

I signed up to do the Livestrong ride this summer as a way of giving back to my fellow spin instructor and friend Rob Sebastiani, a cancer survivor, a road cyclist, an avid Eagles fan and a great person. The ride would also be a great test as it is not for the weary; with a 65 and 100 mile option both with plenty of climbing. What I did not expect was the lesson in charitable giving I was about to receive and a reminder that while it takes years to build something great; it can be destroyed overnight.

» Read more..

Final Day of Bike the US for MS (I finally published it!!) Snohomish, WA to Seattle, WA

The final day of a ride is always special and bittersweet. The ride into Seattle was exactly that. The day would be full of sharing moments with my teammates and riding the wonderful bike trails that make Seattle a special bike place, donating money for MS and a celebration of 4,200 miles for the nine riders crossing the Northern Tier of the US.

As time passes, what will stand out, is the end of the ride and comparing it to the end of my cross country ride last year.  When we arrived in Seattle you could see the joy and bonding of the nine riders and four route leaders that trekked the 4,200 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine to Seattle, Washington.  I would sit back as would my fellow part time riders as the 13 lined up against the water, dipped their tires and sprayed each other with champagne and taking the occasional swig. » Read more..