My journey started 10 years ago, in 2007. In the early 2000’s, I was your typical 40-year old guy. Happily married, great social life, working too hard, overweight, and eating and drinking all wrong. I thought working out equaled going to the local gym after work – stretching and jumping on a stationary bike for 45 minutes.
I thought eating right was starting the day with fruit, yogurt, and toast. If I worked out, I could have a reasonable dinner and have a drink or two. Nothing was changing.
However, being 240 pounds meant some serious lifestyle modifications were needed. My wife Ruth-Anne and I set a goal to get into road cycling, so that we could participate in a 2-day 200-mile charity ride in North Carolina in October of 2007. Crazy, right? I certainly thought so. We had 9 months to figure this out. So, I joined FFC Boystown, where Ruth-Anne was already a member.
Spin Bike to Road Bike
Step one? Start working out early in the morning vs. in the evenings after work. Two other friends joined our mission. We started with 6:15 AM spin class, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, instructed by Arthur Riepenhoff. We went religiously, and he quickly became our Jedi Master.
He taught us how to use spin for strength and endurance, which would help in outside cycling. Week after week we did spin. Spring came, and we started riding outside every weekend together. Arthur even joined us for many of the rides. 30 miles at Bike the Drive, 50 miles at the Udder Century in June, we continued to up our miles every week. North Branch Trail, Fox River Trail, more organized rides, until finally we did our first 100-mile ride at the Northshore Century.
We then successfully completed the 200-mile charity ride in October, but there was one small problem: I didn’t lose any weight. We thought (at the time) that if we did spin and road all those miles outside, that we could eat and drink whatever, and the weight would still melt off. Obviously not.
Fast forward to 2008: this year’s goal was to lose 40 pounds. After some research, talking to FFC trainers, and figuring out that sugar was more than candy bars, Ruth-Anne and I went on a low carb, minimal sugar diet regime, and we followed the South Beach Diet for 3 months.
The diet, along with continuing to work out at FFC (the bike and now some weight training), was working. From March through July I lost 48 lbs. We rode more organized rides that year, upgraded to better road bikes, completed 3 century rides. I was now a road cyclist.
Fitness to Fundraising
Over the next several years, Ruth-Anne and I road all the time, and now most all of our travel included cycling. We organized our first euro-bike trip with family and friends.
Then, in 2011, I read (at FFC one morning) about a cool century bike ride, The Wrigley Field Road Tour, which I signed up for, and where I learned about World Bicycle Relief – an organization that provides bicycles to students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs in rural Africa, where distance is a barrier. It all clicked. I was able to turn my passion for cycling into helping to do good things for those in need of simple transportation.
From 2011 through 2015, I used my cycling for fundraising, to help World Bicycle Relief provide bicycles to students in need in rural Africa. It’s been amazing. Hundreds of friends, family, and colleagues are now aware of the great work and impact of WBR. Together during those 5 years, we raised enough to provide over 500 bicycles to those in need. The best part of this entire journey has been that Ruth-Anne is now working for World Bicycle Relief as their director of global marketing. It’s come full circle since joining FFC and the journey has been amazing.
One Day 100 Bikes – How to Get Involved
Want to get involved? One Day 100 Bikes is an annual one-day festival of fun, fitness, and fundraising, supporting World Bicycle Relief, to provide bicycles to students in rural Africa and allow them to thrive. With the help of the community, FFC, and many other sponsors, we were able to raise over $24,500 in the first year of the event – enough for more than 166 bikes. Each year we plan to do even more. Visit www.oneday100bikes.com for more information on upcoming events.
Post written by FFC Boystown member Tom R.