I ride for many reasons. There are the obvious physical and social benefits, but when I ride for Bike to the Beach, all of the elements are magnified 100 fold.
Bike to the Beach is a non-profit that raises money and awareness for Autism through 100-mile bike rides from city to beach. Since 2007, the organization has grown from a single, 20-person ride, to multiple cities with hundreds of riders partaking in each event. We currently have rides in DC, New York, Boston, and Florida, and are continuing to expand and grow.
I ride to stay in shape. Riding 100 miles is not easy. The distances takes anywhere from 7 to 12 hours (sometimes longer depending on various circumstances), so I make sure to train for at least a full month in advance to get in shape. This training regimen, coupled with the final event, forces me to consistently workout, which is great for my health.
I ride for social reasons as well. I meet new, amazing people at each event, and create incredible connections among the riders. I have met a variety of different people, some of which have become lifelong friends. Everyone involved is there to help the cause, so you know they are all great people.
I ride for professional development. Organizing a charity has helped me to develop my skills, and being involved with the organization has introduced me to potential clients, employers, and even career mentors.
I ride for fun. At our most recent event (New York) we had a team of almost 30 people along with some volunteers that helped out along the route. Biking 100 miles is hard, but biking 100 miles with a great group of friends makes it a blast. Memories are made, stories are told, and it would not be the same without the friends that get involved and the fun that is had both ride day and that weekend after as we celebrate our accomplishments on the beach.
All of these are great reasons to ride, but there is one that stands out above the others.
I ride for the cause. I ride for organizations like Autism Speaks that are doing incredible things to push the envelope and get closer to finding a cure for Autism. I ride for all of the families affected by Autism. I ride for each and every child that gets diagnosed with Autism, and everyone on the spectrum.
At the end of each Bike to the Beach event, when our small committee has finished all of its duties and it is time to celebrate, there is a very pure moment in my life. No one has to say anything, and we silently take a moment to reflect on the day, the accomplishments of every rider, the generosity of every volunteer and donor, and the impact Bike to the Beach is making on the Autism community. That is why I ride.