I always rode my bike. I lived about a mile from my elementary school and I pedaled my single speed bike there in the spring and the fall. I graduated to a three-speed “english racer” bike and then in 6th grade I got a new ten-speed bike. I rode my ten-speed to Middle School, (which was about 6 miles from home) instead of taking the bus on clear weather days. Perhaps I rode this far to meet up with a girl but that is another story. In High School I stopped riding and became a runner and participated in track and cross-country.
I always kept a bike in the garage since I planned to eventually start to ride again but it never seemed to happen. I taught both of my kids to ride and then we all took up roller blading, talk about a dangerous sport, wow did I get bruised up in that endeavor!
Running became a way to keep fit and clear my head early each morning. There were times in my professional life that I was traveling hundreds of thousands of air miles a year. The runner’s high was something I readily experienced on my morning jaunts. It was so easy to pack sneakers and shorts on my travels. I got lost in more cities than you can imagine.
But running was starting to take a toll and my doctor suggested that I consider swimming or cycling. I really was not inclined to tackle either; swimming meant I had to go to a pool. Cycling seemed a bit mysterious, all that special clothing, helmets, clip in shoes, etc.
But one day I was lobbying a Congressman in Washington for work and I suffered a heart attack. I am alive because two Cardiac Care nurses were lobbying the Congressman across the hall and they started CPR, got nitro into my system and then I was transported to George Washington Hospital. The folks there wanted to do radical open-heart surgery on me but I preferred to come home for any treatment.
I had three stents put into my heart here in New Jersey and as I was recovering I was watching TV and an ad come on for the City to Shore event that was staged in September. Riding 150 miles seemed easy to me when I was lying in a bed and recovering. So, I was pumped for this new adventure.
But I had no road bike and knew nothing about the sport, however I had a goal in mind. So my friends Steve and Keith helped me with a few suggestions and I convinced my neighbor Chuck to start bike riding too. We bought new Fuji road bikes and started to train that summer for the MS City to Shore event.
I should tell you that during this time I went from being a Type A guy to trying to learn to slow down and enjoy life a bit more. I found that being on the bike gave me a different perspective on my environment. It was so relaxing to go out and ride in Burlington County. At last I found a perfect antidote to the stress I was always encountering.
The training paid off and I was ready for the MS event in 2002. Many of you know the MS event is a weekend happening. The day before the ride (Friday) I went for a stress test, it was several months after my stents and it was routine my doctor told me. Guess what, my body was rejecting my stents and they were closing, so no MS City to Shore ride. I was told to report to the hospital that Monday for corrective surgery and no riding.
For the next several years I got to ride with my neighbor and we even talked our sons into taking up the sport. We rode with other teams for the Cancer and MS charity rides and truly came to appreciate the sport and the friendships that we were developing.
In 2008 we decided to start our own team, Team Evesham, we wanted to welcome all riders, and we vowed to be friendly and not “standoffish”. That year we had only eight riders for the City to Shore event and we raised over $10,000. We got our start from the Evesham Celebrations Foundation; this group was chartered to bring community spirit to town and support activities with no tax dollars.
It was great to have our own team and we loved welcoming new riders, heck I was recruiting everywhere we went. Our team grew and we welcomed more and more folks and we kept expanding to weekday rides and after work rides from just Sunday rides. We added different ride levels to accommodate all of the riders. We started our own safety clinics since this was a hallmark of our team.
Our team goals were simple, we wanted to promote health and fitness and encourage a sense of community. Bring folks together. Plus we wanted to support charity events. The team got involved with planning many rides; MS, Cancer, Tour de Shore, ALS, Livestrong, Urban Promise, Bancroft, etc.
I look back at the zillions of friendships that I have made from cycling, it is amazing, I was in Arizona and a guy approached me at a Circle K store, and he recognized the jersey. John Murphy always admonishes me about my outreach and he reminds me that not everyone can vote for me. I have been able to ride in 87 charity events and in 18 states, plus two foreign countries. I see folks who came out to ride as novices and now they are accomplished ride leaders and mentors to others. I saw other riders go on to race and I remember when they first started riding with us.
I watch with amazement as new friendships are started and folks get together without their bikes. I have been fortunate to see families out to ride and to have had my son ride with me for years.
At the end of the year 2015 Team Evesham had raised over $943,000 for various charities since the team was started in 2008. We are the largest friends and family team in the City to Shore event and we fundraised in excess of $600,000 for this event alone the past seven years.
Today I am an extremely proud guy; I look at my teammates and think of the bonds of friendship that I have developed. There are so many folks who have impacted me while I was on the road that I am truly humbled by the experience. Heck we even had folks come out at the crack of dawn to ride with me on a sunrise ride.
In 2016 I hope we can continue to expand as a team and that I get to meet more folks and we can positively impact others. “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”
I think I am the most fortunate guy in the world because I get to enjoy cycling, meet new friends, and stay healthy.