New & Prospective Riders,
I am honored to be sharing with you my Tour DaVita experiences and how I got into the cycling culture. First I can tell you that you need to be cautious, cycling is a bug that bites! When it does, your life just might change forever. As John F. Kennedy said “nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” I quickly found those words could not be truer.
In April 2009 I joined the DaVita village. I participated in physical activity (frankly that consisted of men’s softball) and did not take exercise as seriously as I did earlier in my life. I assumed that my move from Chicago to Denver would likely have some impact on my physicality but had no idea that the fire for a healthy lifestyle would start with my new employer and a bicycle.
Within a few weeks of starting I met with my new physician in Denver and he told me I was pre-diabetic. The diagnosis was foreign territory to me yet something that ran in my family and could be either a slow, or fast, journey to Type II diabetes. Simultaneously I heard about this “bike ride” that some of my fellow teammates had participated in. I kept hearing things like “awesome experience,” “a real good time” and “great way to meet other teammates.” I was intrigued and signed-up having no idea what it was really about or if I would enjoy cycling. I should share that there were a few complicating factors to me participating. First, I was traveling back and forth to Chicago every week because my family had not moved; second, I was living in a hotel; third, and this was a big one, I had not ridden a bike in more than 15 years and did not own one.
I had never been a cyclist and frankly did not understand the culture, principles or that it is an energizing activity that draws you in and does not easily let go. But I digress; I started “preparing” on a stationary bike at my local recreation center. I did not take any formalized classes, instead just sat riding the cycle watching television. I have to admit that I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I thought pedal, pedal, pedal was the name of the game. My “training” consisted of three (inconsistent) months of activity.
Before you knew it the big day came…the flight to Michigan and Tour DaVita 2009. As a first time rider I was overwhelmed with all the activity and the anticipation of what the next three days would hold. I was giddy and apprehensive at the same time. I thought I was “ready” but I did not take heed to read other blogs of veterans like Jim Greenwood regarding the time you need to put “in the saddle” or join the preparatory calls.
That first morning came and we were all lined up to start. There I was with my fresh new clips, a Backroads loaner bike, and desire to get rolling. Keep in mind that I had not actually been on a bike yet and once I saddled up, got my balance, and realized that my clips could in-fact kill me, we were off and life would never be the same. The scenery, the wind in the hair sticking out of my undersized helmet and the new-found bond with hundreds of like souls stirred an excitement within me that was hard to ignore.
As we rolled through the small towns and over gently meandering hills I had a feeling that this would not be the last time I would be on a bicycle or joining Tour DaVita. I was hooked and I knew it. So hooked in fact that I did every mile that first year…including the century. Not my brightest of ideas but one that was fueled by the enjoyment I was experiencing. My daughter, 3 at the time, described my condition best when responding to my wife’s question about what shape I would be in when I returned. Her response, “a triangle.” I was pretty sore but couldn’t have been prouder of my accomplishment.
2014 will be my 6th Tour DaVita. I have ridden Michigan, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, South Carolina, and now Oregon. I am on my second road bike, enjoy riding a few times a week and look back on the crazy notion of joining a few hundred dedicated riders to raise money for the DaVita Village Trust as one of the best decisions I ever made.
For those of you that are new to cycling and Tour DaVita my advice is to:
- 1. Soak in every moment and interact with other riders. You will meet some of the coolest people in the Village. Everyone has a story and usually willing to share.
- 2. Get out there and spend some time actually riding on a bicycle. Make those rides varied in distance and time. You will appreciate the preparation in the saddle.
- 3. Get your gear. Don’t worry about spending the most money possible. Get quality gear that will last and treat you well. A local bike shop can help you select products. REMEMBER not to be afraid of appropriately padded shorts…they help and will be your friend. I know they might look intimidating at first. Spandex is generally not your typical garment (it isn’t 1987) but in cycling you want spandex for comfort.
- 4. Don’t let the physical strain of the ride take away from the experience. You will likely not be as prepared as you want to be but go as far as you can comfortably go. This is about personal achievement and however far you go will be an awesome win!
- 5. Have fun! This is an awesome event and one you will NEVER forget!
- 6. Consider making cycling part of your everyday physical routine. Find friends to ride with and enjoy friendship, health and the beautiful world we live in.