Well, it’s finally here. Tour Davita 2017. I’ve been obsessing about this and training for this since October of last year. What are my impressions now that I’m here? In a word…COLD! In another word…WET! And finally…FANTASTIC!

Seattle has been cold and rainy, especially for a desert rat from Phoenix. but the experience has far outweighed the weather. The people I’ve met have been amazing and supportive. The scenery is postcard perfect.

Day 1 I was able to ride until lunch, 38 miles, and then had to catch a shuttle to dialysis. The staff opened up on a Sunday. Thanks to Davita Mill Creek in Bothell and Jamey, Denise and Daisy for coming in an off day and making the experience as good as it could be.

Day 2 started cold and foggy. Of course, why wouldn’t it? Five miles into the ride I was rethinking my decision to be here. My gloves were iced over, my face was freezing, I was wearing four layers of shirts and a stocking cap under my helmet. But I pushed on to the first rest stop. And then the sun came out and I thought, okay, go for one more rest stop. And then one more and then one more.

And suddenly I only had 12 miles left to ride to make it to 73 miles, the metric 100. Dozens of people encouraged me on the way. Special thanks to Keli the Great and Melissa, who were kind enough to ride with me throughout the day and encourage me to finish. I was slow, my body was cranky, and I had my doubts, but I made it.

I look forward to tomorrow’s ride and next years as well.

 

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a runner and running has always been my sport. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t completely on board with running. As my back issues started to increase, I began biking more and completed my first Tour DaVita in 2015. I would describe that experience as the wettest, muddiest, most difficult and most amazing experience ever. When I showed up in the rain, I wasn’t so sure about the whole thing and honestly, I thought for sure that everything was going to be canceled. However, as I saw everyone get on their bikes I, too, got on mine. I made it every bit of the 250 miles and fell completely in love with the ride. Unfortunately, shortly after returning home from that Tour, my back issues worsened and I ended up having spinal fusion surgery in 2016.

After that, I assumed my cycling career was over. However, since the surgery, I’ve been testing my limits and increasing my activity. When this year’s Tour DaVita dates were announced, I told myself that if I was meant to ride in this year’s ride, it would happen for me during registration. I was able to log on and secure a spot within the first 15 minutes of registration. It was meant to be. While I haven’t been able to get my training up to the level it was during first Tour DaVita, I am completely psyched to be heading back out there again. I am going into this year’s race with the mindset that I have three days with absolutely nothing to do, but ride a bike – so I’m just going to keep going. I might be a turtle out there, but I’ll be out there – all day, every day. I’m so excited!

 

My name is Veronica Baez and I am a first-time rider in this year’s Tour DaVita. I have been with The Everett Clinic for almost eight years, but my experience as a new DMG Village member has been nothing short of amazing. In 2016, I read about Tour DaVita through internal emails and it caught my attention.  But at that time, joining the tour felt like only a dream to me. At the time, I had not been on a bike in over twenty years and I felt that I was not strong enough, both mentally and physically. In my opinion, I was older, beefier and worn around the edges. However, despite all of that I knew I wanted to change my ways and get back to a healthier me.

Luckily, in late March, I was able to attend DaVita Academy in Denver. Everything I hoped that DaVita Academy would be – it was. My cup was filled with positivity and I felt empowered. And the best part is that at during DaVita Academy, Yoda announced, “The Tour DaVita site was just released yesterday. This year Tour DaVita will be in the beautiful Snohomish, Washington.” Considering this is my home town, I knew this was my year to take it on!

When I registered, I was afraid that I wouldn’t land a spot. But when you do something with intense will and passion, life has a way of bringing it to you. I completed the registration and I immediately knew that I was in for the ride of a lifetime. Now all I needed to do was to learn how to ride a real bicycle. When I was eight, I kind of got the hang of how to pedal and go, but I had no idea how to ride a bike with gears. I had never learned how to start from a complete stand still and I was nervous about riding on suburban streets. I was worried I’d lose my balance, sprawl out on the pavement and I was also concerned about what I would do if a car came. I feared going uphill because I thought that I might start rolling backward and then freak out.

I had no time to take a class so I started teaching myself by watching YouTube videos, and reading all I could on proper seat levels and RPMs during my kid’s swimming and soccer practices. I quickly learned that there was more to a bike than the ‘pedal and go’ I had learned in my early days. I eventually borrowed a bicycle and helmet from my son and made it to a bicycle trail.

Another source of worry for me is that I searched high and low and realized I am the only rider this year from The Everett Clinic. However, after time I realized that I already have the best training team, my very own family. I always imagined cycling would be fun, but I have found that it is exhilarating. Riding a bike feels like I’m really traveling. When you’re driving a car, the speed is mediated by the machine you’re controlling, whereas on the bike there’s a much stronger corporeal connection. Learning to ride as an adult is almost better because it’s more of an accomplishment. The confidence I’ve gained has empowered me to be more active in my life. I have lost 20 pounds, experienced better cardiovascular health, energy and overall strength. In addition, cycling is a fun family activity! It’s liberating, exciting and every day brings a new adventure on my bike. Another thing that makes me very happy is the effect it has had on my friends and family. People see my contagious joy and want to grab that for themselves; many of them are getting on bikes for the first time in years.

The fundraising part of Tour DaVita was also incredibly impactful. Raising money for people in need made me realize how much we all want to help. What I hear most from my family and friends is, “We want to help a good cause, but we don’t know how or where.” They say that donating to my cause has made it easier for them to give back. I feel that fundraising empowers me to be the bridge between my community and Bridge of Life, DaVita’s charity organization. Through this journey, I have come to realize that helping and caring for a person in need is the key to achieving happiness.

Training for Tour DaVita has taught me to conquer fear by connecting with others. To write about it, talk about it, put it on social media and to seek encouragement. With very little biking history I am excited to see what the future holds for me in the cycling world. Now I am good at a sport and can keep up with my kids. Last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge that I have taken an important first step, believing in myself. I am now part of a wonderful community and I know without the support from my family, friends and this community, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you for everything.

 

According to Cathy Bready, Tour DaVita is the amazing equalizer. Each and every rider – no matter how fast or how far they manage to ride – feels sore, tired and hungry at the end of each day on the trail. Although these elements provide a challenge, they also foster a sense of supportiveness and camaraderie throughout the entire group of riders.

Cathy is a bubbly teammate currently gearing up for her seventh Tour DaVita ride! Her story of solidarity is a glowing illustration of the spirit of the ride. During a ride a few years ago, she started out with a personal goal: to finish all three days of the tour. This was a feat she hadn’t completed before, and she was determined to make it happen this year. She fought for her goal despite all the soreness from sitting on a bike seat for hours on end and through hunger and exhaustion. “First-time riders might expect their legs to get sore from pedaling,” she noted, “but really it’s the sitting that gets the most painful. Bring padded shorts!”

On the last day of the ride, Cathy was the very last person to approach the finish line after successfully completing all three days of the 206-mile ride. Although her excitement to be accomplishing her goal provided some comfort, she couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed as she pedaled in on the now-dark trail. By the time she approached the finish line, she was bummed to think of all of her new friends enjoying their celebration dinner without her, comfortably showered and fed. She expected an empty finish line and a solo walk back to the camp.

To Cathy’s surprise, as she turned the bend for the final stretch, cheers and excitement from half of the DaVita Rx team greeted her! “At that point,” she said, “everything stopped hurting.” She realized that the team had waited through dinner for her and had made the team effort to stay gathered around to congratulate her. It meant the world to Cathy to see the spirit of the ride in action. “Everyone is so encouraging,” she said. “The goal is always to do the best you can.”

This experience is what truly drove DaVita values home for Cathy, but she sees camaraderie in action each year. The sense of community and adventure keep her coming back. “It’s a feel-good thing!” she said, encouraging anyone considering trying out the Tour to go for it.

 

It’s almost here! I’ve put in a lot of miles in getting ready for my first Tour DaVita. I’m not convinced that the rolling hills of Raleigh, North Carolina have prepared me for the mountains of Washington . . . but I have done all I can do. The best part of this trip of a lifetime is that I’m not going alone. There are four Wake Forest Warriors participating! One of my patients, Carl, will be going on his first tour. He regularly rides his bike and happens to be a talented photographer. The dietitian, Adrienne, is rolling along as well. She has borrowed a bike and purchased shoes so she can have a more authentic training experience.  A technician, Kristie, who is our ring leader, is preparing for her second tour. She also has upgraded her bike and has spent a lot of time telling us about her awesome experience last year. Me? Well I’m Kathy, a nurse as well as our clinical coordinator. Ten years ago I rode in events like this regularly. I was a triathlete and rode approximately 100-150 miles a week. Now I’m 10-ish pounds overweight and working full time, leaving less hours to be on my bike. In my mind, I’m ready but the reality is that It will probably be a challenge to complete the course.  (I keep thinking of the five mile long hill. FIVE MILES???)

Each of us has prepared for this ride in our own way but we have looked to each other for advice. Fingerless or full gloves, and clip in shoes versus standard pedals. Where to go for a bike tune up? Every day we check in with each other to see how it’s going and discuss our latest concerns. The four of us are a great team because each of us brings something to the group. Carl reminds us of why we ride. Everything we do is for our patients. The fact that he is a dedicated rider reminds us that ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) has not kept him from doing something he loves. Adrienne helps motivate me because she is able to exercise almost every day. I find it hard to get out on the bike after a long stressful day, but she makes it look so easy. Somehow, I find the energy after talking to her. Kristie has helped us prepare for the actual event. She has stressed the importance of having a rolling bag and handy tips on how to make the tour more enjoyable. I feel like I’ve been able to provide some basic bike riding tips and training suggestions. Because there are four of us going, it feels like our whole unit is a part of this experience. All of the patients are aware that the tour exists, and many have helped us countdown to our special trip. I’m proud of our little team and look forward to flying to Washington to do something I love with teammates from across the country.

 

It’s our second Tour in Washington.  This time we will be riding in the scenic Northwest region of the state, including a ride among the islands inside Puget Sound.  While the last  time we were here the rain gods ruled, this year we are making numerous offerings to the Indian Summer Gods in hopes of having a warm dry early October.  Get ready for a great and beautiful ride!  Many of the small towns we ride through have local Indian names, and we will have fun learning how to pronounce each of these (Swinomish, Samish, Padilla, Fidalgo, Snohomish, etc.).

Once again, I had the good fortune to do a scouting ride of the Tour DaVita route.  A wrinkle this year was an unexpected knee surgery for me, severely limiting my riding.  But heck, who listens to their Orthopaedic surgeon anyway, so I saddled up and made a “promise” not to overdo it!

This year the Tour starts in Monroe, just 40 miles northeast of Seattle.  The route starts in the fertile valleys between Monroe and Fall City.  Day 2 winds its way Northwest towards Burlington, with an extra special route for the Century riders across the Swinomish Indian Reservation to follow along Padilla Bay and Fidalgo Bay.  Day 3 winds from Burlington towards Anacortes, with one of the most spectacular rides ever seen on a Tour, crossing Samish Island and down along Padilla Bay before turning East, crossing over the Tulip fields to Burlington.

Riding with me again this year were two awesome and reliable riders, Seth Winbolt, Senior Accountant with the Accountables in Federal Way, Washington, and Dan DeYoung, Seattle based Audit Partner with KPMG. We were generously supported by my son Max and my wife Chong, who were voluntold to help drive SAG on this year’s adventure. The route is gorgeous, beautiful winding farmland,  twisting rivers, fantastic sea shores, vistas and islands. The topography is primarily flat with intermittent rolling hills and just a couple of challenging hills.  This a great Tour route.  It gets better every day, culminating with the Day 3 ride which is one of the prettiest rides I have ever experienced.

Again this year we arrived with the intent on riding every mile of this year’s route.

However, I knew I would not be able to ride the full route each day because of my bum knee, but Dan and Seth were game to ride the entire route.  Making a scouting ride is a very different experience compared to riding the Backroads supported Tour.   No smiling Backroads teammates, no rest stops set up with goodies.  Generally, the route winds through quiet country roads which are far from convenience or grocery stores, making it difficult to casually stop for needed supplies, so it is important to have SAG (Support and Gear) support. I asked my family to help out so that I could ½ ride and ½ SAG. Driving the SAG wagon consists of drop-off/pickup at the start and finish of each day’s ride, organizing a daily lunch for disoriented, overheated, dehydrated, and hungry riders, and making sure we were safe and accounted for at all times.  It’s amazing how much driving time and effort that entails.

The total mileage for the long version of this year’s Tour is about 230 miles and about 200 for the shorter version. The area is generally flat with intermittent rolling hills.  On average, this is a relatively flat course and the hills we encountered were gentle, with an occasional challenging hill to get your heart pumping. Total elevation gains of ~7300 feet over 230 miles is considered very ridable for the average cyclist. The Tour begins in Monroe, Washington at the Skykomish River Centennial Park, where we will camp for the first two nights.  The road conditions varied a lot, with a healthy mix of asphalt and chip seal. Some of the lanes will get narrow and there are railroad tracks to cross, so remember to pay attention while riding (generally a good rule of life).

The first day of the route is a 70 mile loop that brings you back to the campground.  Day 2 will zigzag over 100 miles, heading generally North by Northwest, ending in Burlington at the Skagit River Park Playfields (70 miles for those cyclists choosing the Metric Century), where we will spend the final two nights of the Tour.  The final day of riding will head West towards Samish Island with a loop back to the Playfields. Washington is a great state and this year’s route is spectacular.  I’ll be waiting to hear how many whale sightings the riders will get to experience!

The weather should be great, but early October can be unpredictable, so be prepared for moderate weather and bring a light weight rain jacket just in case.  The temperature will likely drop down into the 50’s at night so a jacket or warm pullover for the evening is advised.  We found the people are very friendly and cyclist-aware.  On the road, drivers gave us a wide berth and were courteous and safety conscious.

First things first, Backroads has once again designed a great ride this year.  Looking at the MapMyRide maps will reinforce the view of a rolling path winding through fertile valleys and farmland, along the gorgeous bay with incredible views. The roads were generally in reasonably good shape, with a mix of asphalt and sections of chip seal.   This year’s route includes a twenty mile stretch of bike path on Day 2 that is really amazing.  As in all routes that you are unfamiliar with, the roads can be unpredictable, so keeping both hands on the bars at all times is highly recommended.  We did not encounter much road construction, so we should be in good stead come late September.  However, always ride safely and pay attention to your surroundings.

While this year’s course is pretty flat, there are some rolling hills from time to time.  A quick note about riding rolling hills. Rolling hills can be a total blast to ride!  Lots of work and lots of rewards. While riding on the rollers, you will be changing gears much more frequently. Try to catch the momentum of going downhill and pedal through the bottom of the hill, using that captured momentum will help carry you up the hill.  You should be increasing the power of the gears on the way downhill and reducing the gears as you go up the hill.  This is an important skill to master and can make riding through the hills much less challenging and way more enjoyable.

Please also remember that on flat stretches, larger groups of riders can often form and will tend to create pace lines.  Riding in a pace line can be a lot of fun and you will go faster than you would otherwise ride, but you need to keep a few “rules” in mind.  Rule number one, never touch your brakes in a pace line unless you first signal clearly to those behind you that you will be braking (failure to do so will likely result in riders, including you, suddenly hitting the ground).  Rule number two, when you take a turn at the front, maintain the current pace of the line, riding in a steady, predictable pace.  When you find yourself getting fatigued, signal to the rider behind you to come up and replace you at the front (don’t stay up front and slow down as you will slow the whole group).  Rule number three, when you pull off the front, do so by pulling over to the left and drifting to the back of the line.  Do not pull off to the right as you will become a hazard and may find yourself trapped in a dangerous situation.  Rule number four, remember to “latch on” at the end of the line, which takes a final burst of energy so the line doesn’t ride off into the distance without you.  Finally, when you are in a pace line, it is best to be in an easier gear while spinning the pedals a little faster.  This will help prevent you from surging into the rider in front of you. Remember predictability is really important to safe pace lining.

You may encounter lots of wildlife on the ride this year.  You may see deer, turkeys, otters, beavers, hawks, eagles, and yes, whales and dolphins.

Again, this year, we had intermittent user problems following the maps.   We had dutifully printed out the maps and even downloaded them to our Garmins.  We even used the MapMyRide App on our cell phones (this App is pretty darn good and can really give you a great view of where you are going).  Each turn is laid out, right 1 mile, left .5 miles, rotate around the tree, go back, repeat and so on.  Following the maps (or in my case, failing to pay attention) can sometimes be confusing or can take you to strange places.  For instance, the map said turn left (west) and after a while we passed that darn corn field again…

All kidding aside, Backroads will have the route well marked with signs and painted arrows at most turns so no one should get lost or go off course.  Riders should not be worried about getting lost or having to ride through overgrown forest trails, corn fields or tulip fields. We are on the paved roads the entire route.

Ok, a couple of other comments before I move on to describing the course.  Drivers (although there were very few cars encountered) gave a wide berth and everyone we met could not have been more helpful or kind.  There are farm trucks driving on some of the country roads.  Drivers were patient and gave room, but please be careful as trucks and cars will win the physics battle 100% of the time.   The weather may be unpredictable, with wind and rain possible while we are riding.  Be prepared for great weather, but look out for heat, rain, winds and possible thunder storms.  Staying hydrated is incredibly important.   Even experienced riders can overlook this.  Be smart and hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate!

Now, on to the route:

Day 1

The Day 1 Monroe to Fall City Loop is a 70-mile route that climbs 2,300 ft. The majority of the route is a relatively flat ride through fertile valleys with some occasional rolling hills to break it up.  There are three notable hills on this route, with only two being steep, but they are relatively short. Be prepared for quiet country roads and beautiful scenery.  Road surfaces were good to marginal at times.  At about 43 miles in there is a tough but short climb up Stillwater Hill that will challenge you.  The good news is after to reach the top, the next 5-6 miles are mostly rollers making for a enjoyable ride.  As you begin to get close to Duvall, at about 53 miles into the ride you will encounter some hills before flattening out for an easy downhill run back into Monroe and our campsite.   Overall, Day 1 was very enjoyable and a fun ride.

Day 2

This year, like last year, Day 2 is the 101-mile “Century” ride, with a shorter, more manageable 70-mile version as an option.  The route winds 101 miles from Monroe to Burlington, with a 20-mile section of the Centennial Trail bike path, which starts in Snohomish.  We will ride this until just beyond Arlington.  Day 2 is pretty flat, with occasional rolling hills until you reach the cutoff for the longer route.  The extra loop takes you to LaConnor and onto the Swinomish Indian Reservation.  This loop incorporates a beautiful ride along Padilla Bay and Fidalgo Bay.  Be on the lookout for eagles, whales, dolphins, otters and other wild creatures.  As you ride along these bays, the gorgeous scenery will be on your right.  On your left will be the major oil refineries in the Pacific Northwest, which are very interesting unto themselves.  MapMyRide says 3,400 feet of elevation gain for the Century ride (our Garmins’ confirmed that elevation gain), so some up and down, especially on the extra loop for the Century riders, but frankly, it wasn’t that noticeable.  Don’t sweat the elevation gain too much.  It is spread out over 100 miles and there weren’t any super big hills along the way.  Overall, we found the day’s ride to be very scenic and very pleasant riding.

Day 3

Day 3 is a totally awesome and beautiful ride!  This is a course that inspires, and will give you insight into why Washington is so special.  Day 3 is a 58-mile loop route with a scant 1600 feet of climbing.  This flat course starts from Burlington heading North by Northwest towards Samish Island and loops to the South along Padilla Bay before heading East back towards Burlington and our campsite. Riding across the marshland on Samish Island is fascinating and builds the anticipation for the ride around the point of the island. The end point of the Island is about ½ mile long with the Puget Sound to your left and right, providing incredible vistas. I just can’t repeat myself enough when I write that this is a great route which offers great riding.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Overall, this year’s route is terrific and will provide a great experience for both the seasoned rider as well as the novice rider.  Be prepared.  Bring sunscreen, but also bring a light rain jacket just in case. Ride safely. Finally, hydrating is crucial to set yourself up for a spectacular experience.  It is easy to be surprised and become dehydrated on long rides, so a good rule of thumb is a full water bottle an hour!

Enjoy the Tour!!!

Jim “Hammer” Hilger

 

In September, I will be participating in my eleventh Tour DaVita.  Crazy to think I was still in my thirties when I participated in the first Tour and my kids were 14, 11, and 5 and are now 24, 21, and 15!  My kids have grown up with Tour DaVita and know how passionate I am about the event. They have watched me over the years fundraising, training, and counting on them and Dad to hold down the fort while I was away at Tour.  They also watched in 2012, when I received a cancer diagnosis.  They understood how my fitness from the tour not only saved me physically, but looking forward to the event and the mental preparedness you glean from cycling actually helped me cope with the mental challenge of the cancer diagnosis.  If this is the legacy that I leave my children–that when you are passionate about something you give it your all, that bad things do happen, but you face them head on, and a small group of committed people can change the world–then I am pretty happy with that legacy.

I have written several blogs over the years for Tour DaVita. I have written about reflections of the ride, tips and tricks for new riders, and several others so I pondered on what to share in this blog after ten years.  What really resonates looking back over the past ten tours is the passion and commitment of the riders and volunteers.  Countless hours of preparation and sacrifice come into play months and months before the event even begins.  I wanted to take a moment to pause and acknowledge that preparation and commitment and share a little story of my own that sums up how I feel about the Tour DaVita community.

In the earlier years I did not ride every mile, and that is okay because I rode as far as I could go. Flashback to the 2009 Tour in Michigan: I was nearing the end of a hard day’s ride for me and had very little left in the tank.  I arrived at the final rest stop in an apple orchard at the top of a two or so mile hill we just climbed.  I was resting in the grass, exhausted, with about ten or so miles to go from there to camp.

After mustering the strength to pull myself up, I headed over to a Backroads peep and asked how much farther to camp, and are there any more hills?  The perky response was “You got this! It is all downhill from here, just a few miles down the road.”  I learned in the early years the Backroads folks may fib a little bit when it comes to mileage and terrain.  Of course there are route maps that you can study yourself, but sometimes I just like to hear the confirmation straight from the source, and just between you and me, I hope they fib a little!

The route into camp that day was mostly downhill from the last rest stop, but you had to complete one last climb to make it into camp.  The day was very tough for me and I had to give it everything I had to get myself via pedal power back to camp.  When I was pedaling up that last hill that day into camp, Jim Hilger was walking down the hill to dinner.  For those that may not know Jim, they call him “the hammer” and he does a pre-tour ride every year to check out the tour routes.  I don’t know Jim personally, but have met him in passing before on the Tour.  That day our eyes locked as I was giving one last effort to get up that hill into camp and he nodded at me and gave me a look of recognition.  One cyclist to another, I felt what he was conveying with that nod of respect is, “I know what it took to get you here.”

So if this is your first tour or your eleventh or anywhere in between, before the first air horn sounds at Tour DaVita 2017 and the first rider pushes on their pedals and heads out of camp, I want you to remember one very important thing:  You have already worked very hard to fundraise for a great cause, hopefully did some training rides, sacrificed your time and personal expense to get you here.  So take a moment to realize what you have already accomplished just by being here.  Remember it is not about the destination, but rather the journey. So don’t worry so much about the mileage. Just enjoy the ride.  You already are a part of a community of people that are transforming global health.  So a big Thank You on behalf of the lives you have touched with your fundraising, the inspiration you have provided through your participation, the community you will forever be a part of as a Tour DaVitan, and please always remember…we know what it took to get you here!

 

Hi everyone, my name is DJ, I’m a patient rider looking forward to riding in the tour for the first time. This is just a bit about me and why I’m riding.

Kidney disease is something I’ve dealt with all my life.  When I was two, both my kidneys shut down, and the doctors didn’t think I would survive. And of course I did, however the doctors informed my parents that the disease would eventually start shutting my kidneys down again, and I would have to seek treatment. Despite this, growing up I was active in different sports and activities. Including soccer, motocross, running and cycling, anything I thought would be fun.

Eventually, my kidneys did fail, and at twenty-two years of age I received my first transplant from my mother. It gave me new life. I returned to running and exercising regularly, finished college and was feeling incredible. I cannot describe how grateful I am to my mother, and always will be, for giving me life twice. Unfortunately, four and a half years after the transplant, right after a ski trip to Colorado, the kidney failed. Then came dialysis.

It was quite an adjustment, but over the course of my three and a half years of treatments, I truly learned how much of an impact proper nutrition and fitness can have on your body. The first two years were filled with tons of complications that made me feel absolutely terrible. This ordeal forced me to look hard at my lifestyle in regards to my diet and activity level. I realized that I had developed habits that weren’t improving my health. I decided I wouldn’t live like that: I started moving as often as I could. I would go hiking or running trails, take my bike out riding and started strength training. This had an incredible effect on how I felt on and off of treatment. Three years after I started dialysis, I ran my first 5k obstacle course.

This past year I was lucky enough to receive the incredible gift of a second transplant. My recovery has been incredibly different, thanks to proper nutrition and fitness. Within two hours of the transplant, I was out of bed walking the halls. I haven’t stopped moving since then. After only two week, I was back in the gym a few times a week walking as much as possible.

My philosophy is to always be looking forward and to stay positive–no matter the outcome or situation. Even though kidney disease sucks, it has made me appreciate how fragile life is and how exhilarating good health can be. It also showed me how deep the cords of love are.

I’m riding this year to show people that you don’t have to be held back by anything, you can adjust, put mind over matter and make it happen. I’m  looking forward to a fun ride, new friendships, and sharing my story with others.

 

Carl is an avid traveler and an excellent photographer from Raleigh, North Carolina. Carl is also a dialysis patient who will be riding in Tour DaVita for the first time this October! He has been on dialysis for three years and has been diabetic for fifteen years. At his clinic in Wake Forest, Carl talked with a few nurses and dietitians about a biking race they’d come to love: Tour DaVita!

Carl has been cycling for about twenty years, even relying on it for his regular transportation for a while when he had an eye problem. Although he says dialysis can be exhausting and make it difficult to get in the mood to ride, Carl has found that he feels much better when he continues to exercise. In fact, before he retired, he used to ride his bike from work to dialysis!

Some of his best advice for others experiencing kidney disease is, “exercise and staying active are of the utmost importance.” Carl also emphasized that he avoids drinking and smoking. From his mood and mental wellness to his physical wellbeing, he feels so much better on the days when he is able to get on the bike!

Carl is an inspiring example of living life fearlessly. He has traveled to all 7 continents, and he continues to travel now! In discussing his advice for others experiencing kidney disease, he emphasized, “don’t be fearful.” Whether in planning a trip and visiting a new center for dialysis, or for starting dialysis in the first place, he highlighted the fact that it is all doable. His positive outlook is contagious. “This isn’t a death sentence,” he said. “You can live with CKD, it just requires lifestyle changes.”

Since retiring, Carl has taken up photography and has traveled to London among plenty of other destinations. Planning trips out in advance and getting in touch with the dialysis centers in his destinations have allowed his travels to run smoothly. In the coming months, Carl plans to travel to Washington, DC for a family reunion, and he is looking forward to riding in his first Tour DaVita this fall! Two nurses, one technician and a dietitian from his center will be riding along with him.

 

 

My experience with Tour DaVita has been nothing but rewarding.  As a patient, I probably feel the “Spirit of the Ride” even more than most.  I am thankful that I can participate and share these special moments with the group, spend time with my DaVita Home Nurses and meet many new friends.  I also recruited my care partner (My Hubby) after my first experience with the Tour.  I am also very happy to speak out and support Bridge of Life and other DaVita programs with their mission concerning kidney disease.

Kidney disease caught me off guard.  After almost three years on dialysis, I still find myself in denial.  I find comfort in trying to use my situation to help others.  I realize that I am very fortunate in my situation while others are not.  Of course, I get the blues at times but my faith sustains me.  Coming to the tour is a great way to join in and try to show my appreciation by saying thank YOU to all the DaVita teammates who work with the patients and contribute in some way.  It is also great to meet other patient riders who have the same tenacity (or more, since some finish) than myself.  No more heart, just more pedal power!

The DaVita spirit is very prevalent during my treatments at the tour.  The staff is overwhelmingly hospitable and you just fall in love with them.  They are so accommodating and treat us like we are royalty.  I am used to doing for others, not having others do for me in this capacity.  I cannot say enough about them.  The only thing missing would be 70 inch flat screen, and really, you don’t even miss that. Having an opportunity to speak with the representatives from NxStage is also a plus.  I have a very vivid imagination.  I want to share my excitement about Nx2Me and focus on “to travel or not to travel with the Cycler.”

I love coming to the tour.  Like every year, I am supposed to start training in March.  As life would have it, I started in July.  My schedule is not too firm, but I try to slip in a ride or two.  My goal is always to finish at least one day.  That did not happen yet.  I get about half way.  Those darn HILLS.  I am a beast on flat land.  I will keep hope alive and until then, I am fully engaged in the “Spirit of the RIDE!”  One for all and all for ONE!  Looking forward to another great experience in Washington!

Ginger Melton

Chesapeake Virginia

Home Nocturnal Patient