“Bicycles are the indicator species of a community, like shellfish in a bay.” – P. Martin Scott
As I write this, it is two weeks before Tour de Cure, the cycling event that raises significant funds for American Diabetes Association. As of this writing, 100 riders are signed up to participate as members of Nona Cycle and we are at 65% of our $50,000 fundraising goal, closing in on 1st place in the Friends and Family division. This is the largest of the three local charities Nona Cycle supports and the one we support at the highest level (in addition to Ride for Ronald and JHOP).
Early on the morning of March 31, Nona Cycle, along with numerous other teams, families and individuals, will descend upon Nona Town Center to walk, run and cycle for a single purpose, raising funds in support of those who suffer from diabetes. Most of the Nona Cycle team plan to ride the 68-mile rout,e although several are committed to the full 100-mile Century route. (Be sure to check the next edition of Nonahood News to read the recap of the event.)
A year ago, I had been a member of Nona Cycle for just over three months when I rode 63 miles in Tour de Cure. Although I had completed other distance rides for charity, I was still very much a novice rider and it showed in the fact that I rode at a painfully slow pace, had a completely preventable crash (gravel and road bikes do not mix), and had plenty of time pedaling alone with my not-always-positive thoughts. That ride, combined with the encouragement/expertise from my teammates and a year’s worth of weekly Sunday Signature Rides, led me to where I am today – a better rider with a wonderful network of cycling friends, the proud owner of a new bike, and very much looking forward to lining up at this year’s Tour de Cure start for a day of cycling fun and fellowship.
While charity rides are an opportunity for riders to support worthy causes while enjoying wonderful comradery, it’s not without a great deal of dedication and effort in the months leading up to ride day. Personally, the only thing that motivates me to ride long distances is riding for charity … perhaps because it prevents people from questioning my sanity – although I am often asked, “Can’t you just write a check instead?” Everyone who rides is required to raise a minimum amount of funds (in addition to the registration fee), which in itself can be a challenge. Although I am a fundraiser by profession, I don’t have access to the same network of donors as I do in my work. Many of the participating riders aren’t comfortable asking for money, and yet everyone finds a way to ensure Nona Cycle leads the way in fundraising. Five years ago, Nona Brew Crew launched an annual Cornhole Tournament as a way to fundraise for Tour de Cure. This year, the event was moved to Town Center, sold out, and not only raised funds for the Nona Cycle team but helped promote Nona Cycle and our dedication to supporting our community.
The months leading up to a distance charity ride require an increase in the number of days and miles spent in the saddle; one does not simply hop on a bike and ride for the better part of half a day. At this point in time, I refer to cycling as my second job. While the increased miles help ensure a more enjoyable and successful ride day, I’ve concluded a certain percentage of training is psychological – the thought of being part of an organized ride makes us more accountable to ourselves and our teammates to do well. Many of us have added rides in the hills of Lake County, extended rides, and an obsessive devotion to our normal weekly workout routines. We’ve crawled out of our warm beds before dawn and ridden more than 50 riders strong in 50 degree weather, 20-mph winds, rain and other extreme winter weather (by Florida standards) for the past few months. In recent memory, only one Sunday Signature Ride was cancelled (due to torrential rain), moving most of us to post about our indoor training outcomes for the day.
Does this sound like self-inflicted torture? Hardly! The fellowship, laughs, conversation, physical challenges and encouragement are everything that make Nona Cycle the highly regarded cycling group we are. We epitomize what cycling is all about; cycling for charity is additional motivation to do what we collectively love. What could be better than pursuing your passion and helping your neighbors who face health challenges on a daily basis? I am thankful every day that I am able to ride my bike and do all the other things I love in life; being able to utilize cycling as a way to help those who struggle with maintaining their health or the health of their child or other loved one is truly a blessing and privilege.
Thank you to all of you who supported our efforts, cheered us on as we rode by, and helped ensure we stayed safe along the way!