Thursday, November 6, 2014

Countdown to El Tour de Tucson

It's been three months since I was appointed captain of the Rotary staff Miles to End Polio bike team and it's been a great ride! Over the past 12 weeks, we've ridden hundreds of miles together, including weekly group rides of between 40 and 100 miles. More importantly, we've raised thousands of dollars for PolioPlus: as of this week, we met and passed the team goal of $15,000 and are well on our way to $20k.

Our longest training rides have coincidentally fallen on the coldest and windiest weekend days. In September, several of us rode the North Shore Century with temperatures in the 40s and winds gusting over 20 mph. Two weeks later, we headed to northern Wisconsin for a team retreat and hill training. We woke up to an inch of snow on the ground! Fortunately, it melted a few hours later and we took off for 60 steep miles with cold temperatures but spectacular fall color. Finally, last weekend, a few of us headed for the Wisconsin border - just over 80 miles round-trip. Temperatures were in the low 30s when we began but had risen to the mid-40s by the end of our ride. The 15 mph winds that challenged us on the ride north, gave a welcome push for the return ride to Evanston.

Before joining the Miles to End Polio team, I never would have considered riding under these cold and windy conditions. I prefer temperatures comfortably over 60 degrees, with the sun shining and the wind at my back. But this project isn't about comfort: it's about challenging ourselves and pushing the limits, suffering just a little bit and raising money so that we can End Polio Now and make sure future generations no longer suffer the consequences of this devastating disease.

Two weeks from today, we fly to Tucson to join Rotarians from D5500 in El Tour de Tucson who report having raised over $4.3 million for PolioPlus, counting the Gates Foundation match. I understand that last year, the ride took place during a "once in a century November downpour". I'm looking forward to a warm, sunny ride, but know our team is prepared to meet the challenge even if there's a "twice in a century" weather anomaly.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Miles (or kilometers) to End Polio

In 1987, I was a graduate student home for the summer in Evanston, Illinois after spending a year at the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome, Italy. Rotary International was moving into a new building in downtown Evanston and ramping up efforts to eradicate Polio. I didn't know much about Polio then, but Rotary needed temporary staff and I needed a summer job. I never would have guessed that more than 20 years later I'd come back to Rotary as a manager in RI Programs, I'd have followed my father and grandfather and become a Rotarian, and finally, that I'd be captain of the 2014 RI Staff "Miles to End Polio" team, training for El Tour de Tucson.

It's been just over a month since the team was selected and we've been putting in the miles, individually and collectively, to prepare for the November event. As captain, I've organized a group ride every weekend for the past five weeks, riding between 40 and 60 miles (60-100 km). Last weekend we rode north and west to join members of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer and Hawthorn Woods at the 17th annual Long Grove Heritage 5k Run and Walk where they raised over US$100,000 for several charities, including PolioPlus. Next Sunday, 21 September, we will don our "End Polio Now" shirts again to raise awareness of the issue as we participate in the North Shore Century, riding from Evanston to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Not every team member will ride the full 100-plus miles, but each of us is challenging him or herself to do more than we've ever done before. I know I can ride 100 miles, but my challenge will be to do it in Tucson's hills. While pushing yourself to ride 100 miles is both physically and mentally challenging, it's nothing compared to the challenges faced by those afflicted with polio. We've come a long way since 1987 but we haven't reached the finish line. Polio is still endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and we can't rest until we have completely eradicated it. That's why I'm proud to be leading the Rotary Staff Miles to End Polio Team, raising funds and awareness. It's time to sprint to the finish.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bike Path Etiquette

Hey, you on the bike! Yea, you with the headphones and no helmet, flying along at over 20 mph on Chicago's lakefront path. I know you're going that fast because I was going 19.6 mph when you flew past me. You nearly caused an accident - only avoided because the rest of us on the path were alert and riding (or running) responsibly.

If you don't care to protect your head with a helmet, that's your business. But the way you ride, it's only a matter of time before you cause a serious accident and that's everybody's business. You're not the only rider that chooses to cruise with headphones, oblivious to your surroundings. However, most of those listening to music are tooling along, staying to the right, and riding 8-10 mph. I still think they're irresponsible, but at least they're not creating havoc for others.

Pay attention and you'll see that the faster riders are wearing helmets and are not wearing headphones. Furthermore, when we pull out to pass someone, we announce ourselves, either calling out, "on your left" or ringing a bell.

Please get a clue - or get off the path.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

With weeks to go before the Tour de Farms

...I couldn't interrupt my training just because I was in another time zone on the other side of the international date line!