The Spirit of the Ride… One, Two, Three, Four Flat Tires… It just doesn’t get any better than this!
Day one: 1.2 miles, flat tire one of four, 210 riders fade into the distance. 3.8 miles, flat tire number two of four (you can’t be serious), Backroads to the rescue again. 7.3 miles, flat tire number three of four (you’ve got to be kidding me), I can’t peddle hard enough to catch up with the pack. 11.6 miles, you guessed it, so did Back Roads – flat tire number four. I began to walk so I wasn’t standing in the hot sun waiting for my new friends at Backroads. There on the ground on the side of the road was a button with a green ribbon. I reached down to pick up a “They are riding for me” button, the ones that were made for the patients at the centers we visited. Feeling a bit defeated, I wasn’t sure this button was enough to keep me going. I pinned it to my handle bar and continued to walk along the side of the road. “Where do I get a ride back to the airport?” I’m thinking Tour DaVita and I were just not meant to be this year. Au contraire, little did I know those four flat tires were setting me up for one of the greatest blessings, and I was about to experience the ride of my lifetime.
I arrived at the first aid/rest station hours after the other riders had been, rested, and gone again, or so I thought. After a short rest, refreshment, and a nice dose of encouragement from my new friends at Backroads (we’re now on a first name basis, which was not one of my goals for this trip), I got back on my bike and hit the road again. Resigned to the idea of riding the rest of the day alone, I was more than a little discouraged and wasn’t sure I had the heart or stamina to finish the day’s ride. I was feeling sorry for myself in grand style, mine was a hard luck story if ever I heard one, you should have heard me tell it!
A short distance and a long uphill grade from the first aid/rest stop, I could see the hazard lights of a vehicle ahead. As I rode on, I could see the truck was moving very slowly and soon realized it must be the guy in the wheelchair I saw at breakfast that morning. I peddled past the truck, acknowledging the kind soul behind the wheel. I rode ahead and up alongside the guy on the three wheel bike and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Scott Rimmer from the Palms. I certainly understood why he was at the back of the pack. I wasted no time telling Scott of my misfortune, whining and complaining about the four flat tires I had earlier. I expressed my disappointment at being so far behind the others and what a lonely ride it would be if this was it. Once I got it all out I realized how pitiful I must have sounded. I thought of the story my mother told my brothers and I many times while we were growing up, you know it, the story about the man who cried because he had no shoes, then he noticed the man who had no legs. WOW!!! Thanks mom, I get it! I really get it. Now, don’t get me wrong, Scott may not have “legs” like you and I, but you will not hear him complain. In fact, if you take the time to get to know Scott, you’ll learn he is a very humble, life-loving, caring, compassionate man who is thankful for everything in his life, even some of the things you and I take for granted every day!
I asked Scott if I could ride along with him for a while. Sandy could drive ahead with Monte, Scott’s beautiful service dog, find a nice shady spot, take Monte for a walk, take a little nap, and I would ride with Scott for a while. I was surprised how eager Scott was to take me up on my offer, not for selfish reasons like having a little company and conversation on the ride, but because he wanted to give Sandy and Monte a break from what must be an agonizing drive behind two very slow riders. Sandy and Monte drove into the distance.
Scott and I rode along together for several hours, one uphill grade after another, shouting words of encouragement from front to back and back to front again. When the blessed downhill stretches presented themselves, we laughed, whooped, hollered, and enjoyed the respite from the uphill climbs. As we approached the next uphill grade, out came the words of encouragement again. We stopped when we needed to and took breathers, doused ourselves with water to cool off and then, before we knew it, another mile was behind us. The true Spirit of the Ride was beginning to materialize for me.
The words I heard come out of Scott’s mouth more than any others were words of thanks and gratitude. As I rode with Scott on the last day, every rider, save none, passed by with words of encouragement and support. I’m not sure, but I think he was even a little embarrassed. Remember, Scott sees himself as a regular guy and would tell you he doesn’t see himself as someone who might be inspirational to others. In fact, he told me that I inspired him. Be careful what you do and say – someone is watching!
Talking with some of the patients in the centers we visited, the reason we rode, was adding fuel to my fire, now I was on fire, I was going to finish this ride no matter the obstacles. And I did.
What I learned while Creating, Respecting, and Remembering the Spirit of the ride:
Four flat tires just might not be as bad as it sounds. I wish for all of you four flat tires, prepare to be blessed!
The single most limiting factor of the ride: ME! I know it may sound cliché, but the truth is, through the support and encouragement of others, I discovered emotional and physical strength and stamina within myself I did not know I possessed!
If you believe in and are compassionate about the things you are interested in, whether you think you can do it or not, try it! Success is not always pre-defined. The number of miles you ride might define success. It might be the number of miles more than you rode yesterday. Maybe it’s simply the fact that you got back on the bike on day two. It just might be sharing the most precious resource you possess with others: YOU! Regardless of how far or how fast you ride.
Thank you, with all my heart, my friends and family who supported me financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Thank you to old friends for the love and camaraderie throughout the ride and a heartfelt thank you for the new friendships I gained. I will cherish you always! God bless our patients and the members of our Village who are so passionate about taking care of them! See you next year.
For Dawn’s second entry, click here.
Day Three was again an extraordinary day. This leg of the journey was over 90 miles, and at the top of a very long hill, I stopped at a small country store to rest. The store owner asked about the Tour DaVita and when I told her about it, she shared with me that the former store owner was on dialysis. She thanked me for our efforts and her gratitude reinforced my sense of purpose and helped me forget my sore legs.
We continued into Columbia where I met many kind and fun-loving patients. Among them, I chatted with several who also expressed their appreciation for our efforts, as well as a gentleman from Lewisburg, TN. The small and cozy nature of the unit reminded me of my units in Lewisburg, WV and Covington, VA and I felt a little homesick. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and watched as our ride mayors “threw down their gauntlets” in challenges for next year’s Tour.
There were two inspirational speakers who shared how well they felt on dialysis at DaVita. One of them had just returned to work after a nine year hiatus, and the other was 70 and still working for the Board of Education. We returned to our bike ride well-nourished both physically and spiritually.
The last day on Tour DaVita had a somewhat surreal quality to it. The weather was again perfect and we quickly sped to Brentwood, where we congregated at the high school for our final leg of the journey. We were ordered into groups by age, with those over 60 at the head of the pack, followed by those over age 50, then over age 40, and so forth. Needless to say I was near the front. As we neared the school we could hear the crowds cheering, and passing through that finish line was one of the greatest thrills of my life.
I didn’t want the ride to be over. I met so many wonderful teammates and patients, and truly felt sad to say good-bye. But for the most part, we said, “See you next year on the Second Annual Tour DaVita.”
We were told by our Mayor, Kent Thiry, that we raised over $700,000 for the Kidney Trust. DaVita does indeed give life!!!
What an exciting culmination to an epic riding adventure. The turnout for the KAT Walk and the bike tour was exhilarating to say the least. Sandy, Monte, and I had a wonderful time on the ride. This was a very special event that I will cherish for years to come. The ride itself was very challenging, as I am accustomed to flat roads, but the scenery was amazing.
The camaraderie of the teammates coming together to help others get through this journey, and the patients stories of life on dialysis, is to me what the spirit of the ride was about.
Thank you for letting me experience the Tour.
For Seth’s first post, click here.
DaVita claimed that the Tour DaVita would be the ride of a lifetime, and at first I was skeptical. I usually reserve rides of a lifetime for space exploration and Six Flags Over Texas. Never could I have imagined that cycling through Alabama and Tennessee with a group of strangers could embed in me such a sense of euphoria. The experience left me so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, that when the reality of its conclusion hit me at the Nashville airport I almost cried – almost. There were no man tears, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Coming into the Tour I had expectations and goals – we all did – as to what I wanted to accomplish. For some of us it was a physical challenge, an opportunity to push ourselves further than we had ever intended. For others it was a personal goal, an opportunity to renew old friendships and to create fresh ones. For myself, and I’m sure for any of us who are new to the company, it was a chance to see if DaVita was truly a place to invest my future in. To test and prove that the spirit that is spoken so often and highly of is in fact the same beating heart of DaVita.
The friendships that I was able to forge while gutting it out on the Natchez Trace are the images that I take with me. As I reflect on the past week and the innumerable faces that will forever pass through my mind, my memory is a collage of mixed emotions on the road to Nashville. Some faces were those of jubilation and expressed joy beyond measure; usually those were the faces seen on the descents. At other times I would come along individuals who had a pained sense of gratification on their faces. They would turn to say hello with a smiling huff and a puff and then continue on. But the most satisfying moments for me were when I would pull up along someone to say hello and they wouldn’t answer back. Their faces would be contorted into grit and agony, determined to accomplish their goal, whether the goal was to finish up the day or to get up those damn deceptive hills whose gentle grade mocked us for miles. That, or they were listening to their iPod and couldn’t hear me. Whichever it was I didn’t want to mess up that kind of focus, that’s just bad karma.
For all of those I met along the way, I hope you made it back home safely. I also hope you came back just as sore and smelly as I did. More importantly, though, I hope you came back excited to tell everyone who had an ear to listen just how amazing a time we had on the Natchez. Was it the ride of a lifetime? It was a masterpiece, and for this kid from Colorado it’ll take more than a lifetime to forget.
I really can’t believe it is over. I knew before we left that this would be a great experience. What I had was a mind-blowing experience.
Every single person who participated in this event was a winner and a hero. In any type of sporting event, there will be some level of competition. Of course, there were those who were able to complete this event quickly and finished first and with a lot of finesse. I did not see much of this group!! I, of course, am envious of their athletic ability, but what impressed me the most was the incredible effort and fortitude delivered day after day from the teammates who hadn’t seen much of a bicycle in the last 10 to 20 years. It would have been so easy to wave down one of the shuttles and ride in the van, but yet these guys just kept at it and pedaled and pushed themselves like never before. It was the “spirit of the ride” in its purest form. They may not have completed the entire 237 miles, but I am quite sure that everyone rode “as far as they could ride.”
The “ripple effect” that KT talks about within DaVita and throughout the ride was in full force. I came across so many angels throughout the tour. On day one, everyone was full of anxiety about completing a full day and riding well. I was down to the last two miles of the first day route. I must have looked as pathetic as I felt. My bike was lying on the side of the road and I was mentally preparing myself to pick it up and complete the day’s ride. Before I could move, Rebecca (the FA from Hillsboro) reached down and picked up my bike. She said “Here, let me help you get on your bike.” That small act of kindness was enough to give me the strength to pedal through those last two miles. Rebecca probably didn’t think twice about what she did, but I will never forget it.
Beyond riding a bike for four days, the joy and excitement we brought to the communities we visited and the hope that we gave to the patients at the dialysis clinics made me so proud, not only of myself, but of the team I was with and the company I work for.
Day four was an emotional day. Besides being tired and sore beyond belief, I was happy to be closing in on the last 20 miles of the ride, but also sad to see the “Moving Village” come to an end. Everyone was congratulating and celebrating with each other. Riding into the Brentwood compound was really exciting. The balloons and bands were great, but seeing the children of the riders holding up signs for their parents and watching patients scanning the crowd for the riders from the clinics was truly touching. We were celebrating life, family, and team.
The top three things I will never forget:
- The spirit of the ride
- The kindness of others
The top three things I can’t wait to forget:
- The taste of Gatorade
- Waiting in line for a cold shower
Hey, where do I sign up for next year???
To see more Tour DaVita photos, visit the flickr site by clicking here!
For Cathy’s first post, click here.
Hello, this is Cathy McCreadie, Credentialing Services Manager here, out of Team Music City, with some final thoughts about my ride of a lifetime. Well, as we completed day two and three things just got better and better, what an amazing sense of community and purpose that just seemed to surround all of the riders. Nothing, however, could compare to the final day of the ride into Team Music City.
We awoke to a cool crisp morning at our campsite in Thompson Station, TN after many of my fellow riders had pushed it hard the day before through some difficult terrain. Most of us were ready to get the final 20 miles from our campsite to Team Music City under our belt. My legs were burning the first few miles, but I made it the eight miles to our first rest stop at the Williamson County Administration building in Franklin, TN.
From there we all felt like rock stars as we got a full police escort all the way into Team Music City. I do not know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I’m from here and knew exactly where I was the whole trip from Franklin to Brentwood. The bad thing was I knew there was still one BIG hill to climb. The good thing was after that hill I knew I was home free all the way into our final staging point at Brentwood High School, so the adrenaline kicked in and I rode like the wind. No, actually I was fighting the wind the whole way, but I knew I had made it to my final destination. We rode into Team Music City and were greeted by the cheers of fellow teammates, families, and friends, and there was no greater feeling in the world.
All of us came to know the spirit of the ride over our time out there on the Natchez Trace, and we may all define it a bit differently, yet all of those definitions would be interrelated. For me the spirit of the ride is about humanity. It is about all of us as human beings making a conscious choice one day that we are going to take a risk and we are going to step out there to boundaries that may be uncomfortable, and test our limits to possibilities within that we never imagined. It is about doing something individually and collectively for such a wonderful cause and I thank our Mayor for letting me experience the ride of a lifetime.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I really feel captures the essence of the spirit of the ride: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Create, Respect, Remember the spirit of the ride…
By Stephanie Prial, Public Relations Director
On our last night as a group, Chief General Counsel Joe Schohl asked us to reflect on the lessons we learned from the spirit of the ride. He asked us to share with each other how we would describe this experience to our teammates when they ask us about the trip, and what we would take from this for ourselves.
I’m not that good at thinking on the fly, and as I was working the Tour as a support person, I chose to sit back and let others share their thoughts – and they were wonderful thoughts!
But I’ve spent some time thinking about that question, and I have some answers that I thought I would share.
Lesson One: It’s a Ride, Not a Race
From the beginning, we were told, “it’s a ride, not a race.” If I had been riding, I would have been concerned, as others were, about keeping up with my group and not falling behind. I could also understand those who had set a goal for themselves, such as riding 50 miles, who might have felt the urge to pull away from their group in order to reach their goal of speed, distance, or whatever.
At DaVita, we’re a very goal and metrics-driven company, which is something that fits my personality very well. I like to set a goal and work to achieve it. We have tremendous ability to Get Stuff Done (GSD) at this company. It is something that has benefited our patients and is something that we recognize and reward in each other.
However, I have found as an individual and as a manager that there can be a conflict between GSD and the value of team. It is possible to push so hard for the stretch goal that the value of team gets undermined.
I talked to several riders who realized on that first day that by leaving people behind to push for 50 miles, they missed the fun and camaraderie they would have enjoyed if they had slowed down and stopped at 48. I’m a slow learner, so it took until the second day for me to figure this out.
I was sitting in the ESO, our traveling office, working on my laptop after dinner, when I heard my dear friend Cindy Collins get called out from the group outside for her hard work. I stepped outside to listen and I realized in my race to get one more task done, send out one more email, answer one more question, I was missing the ride!
I packed up my laptop and went outside to listen to everyone’s wonderful stories. We sat in the rain together, sharing a beer and a laugh, recounting the day’s adventures and discussing what lies ahead. Country music singer Michael Peterson joined us for an inspirational concert, and at the end Senior Vice President Steve Priest invited him to cross an imaginary bridge and join the village.
The rest of the ride, I still had to get my work done, but I also made sure I was there for the important parts, cheering folks home, visiting with them afterwards. And of course, the paradox of Team and GSD is that when you do slow down for others, the energy and insight that you get makes the final product better, just like those riders who stuck together on Day Three and rode 92 miles, farther than they had ever dreamed possible.
Lesson Two: You Ride as Far as You Can
On Day Three, the 80 mile day that was actually 92 miles, KT told us the following story over lunch. One year at the Special Olympics, a boy won one of the races, beating the others by quite a distance. A reporter covering the race came up to the boy and asked him how fast he had run. “As fast as I could,” he answered. KT challenged us to take that simple wisdom to heart. Instead of asking each other how far they rode and measuring themselves against each other, the riders decided they would ride as far as they could.
Now, you may have been to Nationwide or one of our other meetings and been surprised at how smoothly everything is going. I always say it’s like looking at a duck glide across a lake – it looks calm on top, but the legs are frantically swimming underneath.
It was my job during the ride to make sure the politicians and media showed up. That whole week, while I was on the ground at the ride, I was being supported by a team of about five people back home, who were working hard calling over fifty different media outlets trying to get them to come, and who were taking my daily dispatches and sending them out to the media who had confirmed they would cover the event.
We put a major push on the Nashville press, calling them daily. One person on my team talked to the four major Nashville TV stations, and at 9 am on Saturday morning, they all confirmed that they would send a camera crew over at 10 am to film our finish. An hour later, not one crew showed up – they had all been reassigned while on the road.
Clearly this was a big disappointment to the team, some of whom had risen at 6 am on a Saturday morning to get this done. And we knew when the ride was over we’d be asked how much media coverage we’d received. But I knew we’d tried our hardest. So how much coverage did we receive? As much as we could.
I think this happens to all of us, just like it happened for the riders. You set yourself a goal and get on the bike, but then maybe your knee starts hurting, or your derailleur breaks. You do as much as you can do, and then you let it go.
I want to thank Paul “Radio Voice” Dorsa, KT and the steering committee, Cindy Collins and her amazing crew, Steve, Gina, Angie and Dave, the local clinics, and their great red shirts, CAPA, my team back home, and especially the 211 Tour DaVita riders for creating the spirit of the ride, for teaching me to respect the spirit of the ride, and I will always remember the spirit of the ride.