We often talk about the benefits that cycling has for people living with Parkinson’s, but what are the benefits we all share when we ride and fundraise for a cause we care about?
Here are eight benefits that members of Team DPF have shared with us and why many of them—people with Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s care partners, friends, family members, Parkinson’s healthcare providers and people with no connection to Parkinson’s at all—come back to ride with us year after year. Some of them may surprise you.
#1 Camaraderie and Friendships
One of the comments we often hear from riders is that more than just riding their bike, they fall in love with the people they meet and the friendships they create while doing so. One of our riders said that sometimes the only things you have in common with another rider is that you both love riding your bikes, and you both share a passion for a cause, but that alone is enough. And it’s often the start of friendships that last for many years and many miles.
#2 Meet People You Never Would Have
As is the case for many charity rides, people from all over the world come to ride with us. They have fascinating stories about why they ride and they bring ideas, experiences and dreams that make us see the world differently. While we know that crushing a five-hour ride with your buddies on a Saturday is pure heaven, we also know that meeting new people and exploring new roads and trails with them can add a layer of greatness to your life that you wouldn’t experience otherwise.
#3 Add Excitement to Your Cycling
If your passion for cycling is experiencing a bit of a dip, doing a charity ride is a great way to revive your love for the sport. Perhaps you’ve been too busy with life to do your regular rides. Or the winter has relegated you to the indoor trainer for so long that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have the wind at your back. You know the love is there, but you need to add some fuel to the fire. Signing up for a ride, and knowing that you can’t just show up and wing it—and feel good afterward—may be exactly what you need to bring the excitement back.
#4 Set Bigger and More Meaningful Goals
When was the last time you rode 418 miles in six days with nearly twenty-six thousand feet of elevation? Or road through the prairie land on your eBike with a peloton of friends? And when was the last time you did it to help people in need?
Charity rides, especially those like Ride The Rockies, give you the opportunity to push yourself to see what you can do physically and mentally while raising money for people who appreciate and need every penny of it.
#5 Get Accountability
There’s nothing like the accountability that comes from asking friends, family and colleagues for money and then having to report on the success of your ride, whether you define success in miles, fun had or friends made.
One of our biggest fundraisers of all time, Reid Hunter—who has raised more than $100k for the Davis Phinney Foundation—said,
“By tapping into my colleagues and professional network for fundraising dollars, I have no choice but to succeed. I take my responsibility for following through very seriously. They’re counting on me to deliver, and I’m not going to let them down.”
Maybe asking people to support your ride for a cause is the right kind of accountability you need to take action.
#6 Gain Perspective
If we don’t live with a chronic illness, it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like. And unless we’re around it, it’s easy to lose perspective and let little things like a sore calf or an aching neck get us down. However, when you’re riding up a mountain next to people with Parkinson’s, it’s impossible not to be inspired by them and put your pain in perspective.
Our team members always comment on how courageous and tenacious people with Parkinson’s are. They’re grateful to still be able to ride, and they go after goals that most people who aren’t living with a progressive disease wouldn’t even pursue. This perspective is a gift that keeps on giving well past the finish line and if we hold onto it, it impacts how we show up not just on our bikes but in the world.
#7 Make Your Riding About Someone Other Than You
For better or worse, most riding is typically a selfish pursuit. It’s all about our sleep, our nutrition, our recovery and our time. To get better, we have to get after it. We spend hours in the saddle away from friends, family, work or any number of other things we could be doing. If we’re not careful, as one of our team members Steve Brand says, it’s quite easy to busy ourselves with that mindset. However, if we look for the longer view, we can ride our bikes in a way that benefits others as well. Brand has a wife and four kids and says that when they know he’s riding his bike and that he’s also helping people with Parkinson’s, those long weekend training rides become a much easier sell.
Riding for yourself is valuable in and of itself, but sprinkling in some rides for a cause can bring a whole new level of meaning to each and every minute you spend on the bike.
#8 Open the Door to Unexpected Opportunities and Business Relationships
Without a doubt, this has been the most surprising benefit our Team DPF members have experienced as a result of riding for a cause. They’ve mentioned how much their networks have grown, how many opportunities have come their way and how many doors have opened to them simply by raising money and riding a bike.
That’s because when you share your story with people when asking for money, they often see a side of you they’ve never known before. When you go through the shared experience of climbing mountains day after day with people you’ve never met, you open the door for the unexpected to walk through. And when you tell the story of your success, people see you as someone who can do hard things—someone who can plan and follow through. In this crazy world we’re living in today, people are waiting to be inspired. If you can be that person for them, they’ll remember it and often act on it in ways you could never predict.
Ready to Ride for a Cause?
If you’re interested in riding for a cause, consider joining Team DPF for Iron Horse, Ride The Rockies, Copper Triangle, RAGBRAI or another of the many rides we have planned for this year. Or, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could create your own charity ride. We have tools to help you do that too.
In any event, we hope to see you on the roads and trails soon.