Recap of the Iron Horse Challenge to Dayton Ride

18 11 2009

Months slip away so quickly.  August and September were a blur of activity, between organizing the Iron Horse Challenge, trying to get riders, supporters, swag for the participants, advertising, placing posters and fliers, training, making sure the route was clear and traversable, getting volunteers to drive support, training, setting up a facebook Iron Horse Challenge page, designing and producing a riding jersey, and photo-documenting the route for new riders…wow…there was just so much to do and while it was a great learning experience, I have to admit I always feel like I’m coming up a little short.  This year getting the posters and fliers up was extremely local and I didn’t get much of a chance to press the local media to help. 

I was extremely grateful for the support of a number of veterans to the Iron Horse Challenge, namely Audra Slocum, Ed Penczek, Chris Parkerson, Sherry Foster, Loring Resler, my father John Schulte and my sister Wendy.  Whether they spread the word, walked, helped bounce ideas around, or just offered critical advice or much-needed logistical support, this event could not have had the success it did without them and they deserve a great round of thanks.

I was also energized and jazzed by the addition of Lauren Strawn, who brought new enthusiasm to the ride and managed to do a great job of spreading the word.  She not only got a bike and started training (to do something she had never done before – 70 miles in a day), but she also was the only person to bring along another rider to the ranks, Jason Cleveland.  Her attitude and actions made this year truly wonderful and brought a fresh spirit and gave me hope that this event really can be something wonderful, that can touch people, and bring a new life to the fight to end ALS in Ohio.  In an unexpected last-minute turn of events, I was also grateful to have Darin Hadinger be the first rider to show up at Staufs to start the Dayton Iron Horse Challenge ride.  Darin’s combination of love for cycling and his open-hearted and warm demeanor really helped pull our group together and helped push the pace and maintain the light-hearted nature of the ride.  We might not have been a legion of cyclists, but we had a great time together and everyone really made the day wonderful.

Our Dayton Riders and Support (left to right): Sherry Foster, Ed Penczek, Darin Hadinger, Shawn Schulte, Chris Parkerson (in back), Lauren Strawn,  and Jason Cleveland.

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Prelude to the Iron Horse Challenge:

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  This year the addition of the ride to Canton added extra challenges to the organization of the rides to come.  With the Canton ride just one week before the Dayton ride, I knew weeks before that much work needed to get done.  I wanted to create a more comprehensive photo-documention of the route so that potential cyclists would have a visual guide to use and to act as an inticement for participation.  In previous years, the various strengths of the riders made it somewhat challenging to keep the group together and I wanted everyone to be able to navigate the route and to know what they needed to be ready for.  With this in mind, I captured some visual cues:

the photos were posted on facebook and these are just a few to illustrate.  I had done this last year as well and they can be viewed on other pages on this site.  Each year seems to offer a little more insight on how to support the riders, particularly if they are new to long distance riding, or if they are just new to the route.

In the week between Canton and Dayton, I was watching the weather, trying to finalize who was going, and trying to make sure I had enough volunteers to ferry the riders home (at the end of the Dayton/Yellowsprings ride) was my chief concern.  Pulling some last minute strings, Ed and Chris volunteered to drive and offer support, Ha Ha Pizza and BJ was prepared for our finish-line feast, and the it was looking like Lauren, Jason, and I were going to be the only riders.  After putting so much energy into social media sites like Facebook and getting a lot of ‘maybe’s for the ride, I was admittedly a bit dissapointed with there only being the 3 of us, but I realized it was going to be a great event; even if forecasts were looking at rain in our future. 

So in the dark hours before dawn, I geared up and heading down to the start point at Staufs Coffee Roasters and under the florescent glow of the Staufs sign I was surprised to see a rider had beaten me there.  To deepen that surprise, I came to find Darin (who was a last minute ‘maybe’) waiting for me.  Turns out Lauren started the day with a flat tire and she and Jason showed up a little later than planned, but we coffee’d up with Gehrig’s blend and headed down 5th Ave with our headlamps and blinking red lights owning the road. 

It turned out to be a wonderful, slightly overcast day, that was seasonally cool and lovely to our group of cyclists who were working to keep a 17 mph pace to make it down to Dayton by the Walk start time of 11am.  The route was beautiful, the company was great, and the group had a dynamic that allowed us to travel, talk, laugh, and tell stories,  deepening the enjoyment of the ride.  By the time we got to Yellowsprings the excitement was building, our milage was nearly over and the fresh look of the Little Miami trail and the vibrant town of Yellowsprings, was telling us we were nearly there.  The rain had so far abaited and the temperature had been perfect and the lack of sun had not made the day any less splendid. 

The last stretch to the Walk to Defeat ALS in Dayton/Fairborn is always an interesting blend of town and industrial and the open downhills make most riders forget that there will be an up on the way back to Ha Ha’s Pizza and our finish line for the Iron Horse Dayton, but we were pushing it, and the sky was just starting to hint at drizzle. 

We arrived at the walk around 11:30am and bumped into Ed and Sherry with Chris soon to follow.  The overcast deepened and the drizzle cooled us down and we joined the ranks of the Dayton ALS Walk Community and stretched our legs, told stories, and looked forward to pizza.  For myself, Dayton is always a special walk, its so close to my martial arts home base of Sikal -Asian fighting arts in Dayton, its home to my dear friend Sherry, and its the first of the 3 legs of the Iron Horse Challenge – the one most people believe they can do.  It comes out to 76 miles from Columbus to the Dayton/Fairborn walk and back to Ha Ha Pizza in Yellowsprings.  We will have traveled through city, town, and country on roads, bike trails, and parts of the Ohio to Erie trail.  Its a wonderful time to appreciate Ohio and our resources, to appreciate the people who ride and maintain the trails, and to remember why we are riding and what we are trying to do; taking steps to fight ALS.  Its a ride that empowers and creates a feeling of appreciation.  That we can do this.  Take this step.  Offer this simple gift of time, energy, and hope.

I owe special thanks also to

 Staufs Coffee Roasters and Ha Ha Pizza for being our starting point and our finish line.  To Vicky and BJ for being our hosts in Yellowsprings. And to everyone who put down ‘maybe’ on facebook.  I hope the pictures and the story will encourage you to join us next year!

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