This Sunday, I’ll join several hundred other bicyclists on The Ride, an experience event that has raised millions of dollars for research at The Ottawa Hospital over the last decade.
A good, long-standing business client, Robert Merkley of Merkely Supply Ltd., introduced me to the event, which he helped organize in 2009. That year, I had a direct conflict, so sent in a cash donation. But I had no “out” in 2010 — and it is clearly hard to say ‘no’ to a client request, especially when it relates to selfless community service.
So I mounted a used bicycle I had purchased 20 years earlier when I first arrived in Ottawa (so the bike may have been 30 years old) and set out on the 109 km journey.
I didn’t come in quite dead last, but the experience certainly was painful enough. But I discovered I enjoyed cycling and began commuting to my office/workspace from home.
A couple of years later I graduated from the ancient bicycle to a solid $700 hybrid exercise bike. And this summer, I went all-in, purchasing a carbon fibre bicycle, bicycling gear, and taking a week-long-self guided cycling tour in Europe.
Undoubtedly the cycling activity is good for my health — I’ve averted pre-diabetes, and the energy output is great for cardiovascular strength. The inexpensive exercise bike and work commuting certainly saved money. (My more expensive bicycle and travel this year obviously fit into a different economic space — but I can think of many places where you could spend much more money for less health value.)
Merkley indicates he is retiring from The Ride this year. My business has certainly evolved in the past decade, from publishing monthly regional printed newspapers, to a daily digital enterprise. With the daily publishing cycle (and, to a lesser extent, the physical effort required for cycling), I’ve found less time to maintain this blog.
Nevertheless, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn, exercise, contribute and grow. If you would like to support the hospital with your own contribution, here’s the link.