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Westport Fitness Coach Shifts Gears For Challenge

WESTPORT, Conn. – Jean Paul Desrosiers has to shift gears for the Connecticut Challenge . As a former semipro cyclist, the Westport businessman and fitness coach adjusts to a more leisurely pace for the event.

“When I was racing, it was for time and place,’’ said Desrosiers, a Weston resident and the owner at Sherpa Fitness. “This is completely different. It has a completely different dimension than trying to win it. This is about raising money for the Challenge and enjoying the experience. It’s not race day.”

Desrosiers will ride 50 miles in Saturday’s Connecticut Challenge, his third time in the event. This year, however, he has created a Sherpa Fitness team for the ride. He has 16 riders on the team, and is hoping to raise $10,000 for the Connecticut Challenge, which develops programs for cancer survivors. People can support the team through an online donation.

“I have a couple of first-timers that will be on a road bike for the first time, and a couple of seasoned veterans who could probably do the ride backwards,’’ Desrosiers said. “We have the whole spectrum.”

Desrosiers said he’ll probably ride 100 miles on the day by backtracking to support his riders. He also feels there will be some opportunities to let loose.

“This ride is just about getting it done,’’ he said. “But I’m sure there will be some competitive hill climbs. There will be some feistiness among the riders.”

What he is most looking forward to, however, is riding with his team. He routinely trains clients at his fitness studio for events, including marathons and triathlons. His association with the Connecticut Challenge made it an obvious fit.

“An important part of the process is to give them something to work toward individually and as a group,’’ Desrosiers said. “It builds a tight bond. It was a no-brainer to have them ride in the Challenge. It all lined up perfectly.”

Desrosiers and his team will be easy to spot with their orange jerseys in the 50-mile ride, which rolls through Weston, Redding, Bethel and Easton before returning to Westport. It should be a fairly easy ride for Desrosiers, who still occasionally competes. For some members of his team, however, the ride will be a new experience.

“I’m looking forward to having people say, ‘Holy cow, I just did that. What’s next?’ ’’ Desrosiers said.

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