This morning Sandy Student asked me “why do you ride?” For some, that may be a question easily answered…fitness, fun, good people, adventure, and a whole variety of other wholesome reasons. Yes – I ride for all of that, and am truly grateful for the friends I have made through Team Evesham! For me, though, it’s not quite that simple. I ride for my kids!
I have fond memories of riding my bike when I was a kid. My family spent summer vacations on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and I would ride with my parents and brothers along the Cape Cod Canal and the bike path that led from Hyannis to Provincetown. My dad called me “Speedy Gonzalez”. Cycling was my way of getting around town…to the arcade, or to a friend’s house. Then life got in the way of cycling. I got a car. I went off to college. I got a job and worked tons of hours…it just wasn’t a huge priority. I kept on riding from time to time, though. My wife and I did an 8-day cycling tour of Provence, France for our honeymoon in 1994, and in 2002 I rode 800-miles in 7 days in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride from Boston to Roanoke, Virginia. But, for the most part, life still got in the way, my couch became my comfort zone, and my waist-line expanded from 32 to 38 in a matter of just a few years. I looked horrible and didn’t feel much better.
Then, in the spring of 2011 I learned about this thing called JDRF Ride to Cure. Someone challenged me to sign up and ride in the JDRF Ride to Cure in Lake Tahoe to help raise money for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) research. Two of my three sons have T1D, so I was motivated. I was way out of shape and needed to train hard to make it the 74 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing that would be in store for me, but I did it.
I was able to do it because throughout my training for the event, I reminded myself of the fact that my sons need to be motivated every day to take care of them-selves, live a healthy life-style, exercise, eat well and stay positive through the adversity of T1D. I would say to myself, as a dragged my butt out of bed to do an early morning training ride, that if they don’t get to take a day off then neither do I!
This is when I learned about Team Evesham as well. Training for this ride was arduous as a new rider, and I needed the camaraderie that the Sunday morning group rides had to offer. Pushing myself to ride in the group ahead of where I thought I should be helped make me a better rider! So – I trained, I went to Tahoe, and I conquered those hills! I did so not entirely on my own. I had the help of a few riders that JDRF has along the course at each ride…they wear red jersey and are called Coaches. Their job is to help riders have a great experience and accomplish the cycling goals that they set for themselves at each of the ride venues. I may not have finished that ride were it not for those coaches in the red JDRF jerseys!!
That ride around Lake Tahoe caused me to get serious about my cycling. I realized that a few JDRF Ride to Cure coaches, and the experience of that weekend in Lake Tahoe, helped me to set an example for my kids. I realized that I was, for the first time, practicing what I was preaching to them. I realized that the experience empowered me to use my bicycle to make a bigger difference in the lives of the people that I loved. I wanted to repay those Coaches for the help that they gave me, so in 2012 I became a certified cycling coach through USA Cycling, and I became one of those riders who has the honor of wearing that red jersey! I also founded Hope on 2 Wheels, which has been an annual event aimed at inspiring young kids with T1D to become active and healthy, and to teach them that they can accomplish any of their goals if they live well and set the right priorities for themselves.