The Standing "Seatless" Cyclist
For me, cycling long distances while standing started off as an odd experiment. I'd been cycling on and off road for 25+ years. Back in the late '90's I began having trouble breathing. Soon after, I was diagnosed with Allergic Asthma. It became so severe I could barely function. I lost motivation, gained 20 pounds and was lucky if I could make it down the driveway to put out the trash without losing my breath.
Being the tinkering type, I began to try different cycling positions hoping to get up off the couch and become active once again. Soon I discovered I could ride short distances while standing up, without feeling like I would collapse. Standing seemed natural to me. The upright position opened up my diaphragm, allowing me to breathe just a bit easier. My ultimate goal was to once again ride a tour and do it medication free. Eventually, standing (along with diet modification, improved conditioning, mind/body training, and of course the careful avoidance of allergy triggers) was allowing me to get back out there on the bike and live again, without relying upon a daily Asthma med. Living in a more mindful way had put me back on track.
My body and mind were not the only areas in need of a change. I needed to modify my bicycles, as well. Geometry and components had to be tweaked to keep my knees and back pain free. After completing several rounds of design mods and day-trip test riding, I set out on multi-day bike-packing trips both on and off road.
I had experience mountain and road touring but always with a saddle. My first big standing trip was in Ireland back in 2006. More recently, I tackled Iceland riding from Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, up to the windy, cold and wet Northwest Fjords. My next adventure was a ride around Lake Champlain (covering NY/VT/Quebec). In total, 402 "seatless" miles in 8 days, fully loaded with camping gear, tools, and clothes, to raise awareness and funds for the non-profit initiative Stand Up To Cancer. Thanks to television and newspaper coverage, and local/national supporters, it was an amazing experience and a great success!
In August 31st, 2010, I completed a 320+ mile ride, off-road from the outskirts of Pittsburgh to Washington DC, to raise awareness for Mesothelioma Cancer and the ban on Asbestos, the substance responsible for this deadly disease. This seatless Meso Challenge included one additional twist - a single speed, fixed-gear bicycle that did not allow me to coast. When the bike was in motion, my legs were in motion. I enjoyed this seatless, fixed-gear bike configuration right from the start and today it is my ride of choice for most all of my standing cycling. I call it Rolling. There's nothing quite like it. Riding a "Roller" is a little like running and cycling, combined.
In reflecting back on Team Standing Cyclist in 2011, one very special ride stands out. I set out to cycle as many standing miles as I could, at one time, as a tribute to a special young lady named Rose. Rose, 10 years old at the time, is challenged by Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She had written an inspiring song (lyrics) which drew me to her strength and encouraged me to push past my own personal limits. I rode from dawn to dark that day and successfully completed an 89 mile route in upstate New York, cycling the entire time without the ability to sit down. The iStand for Rose 2011 trip continues to raise both awareness and funds for SMA and the Families of SMA organization.
All my training and every trip yields a wealth of personal tests, lessons learned, and special connections with like minded people from around the world. Meaningful experiences that extend well beyond the athletic nature of the event, have become commonplace. There's a lot of engagement off the bike - from the stories and advice of Irish pub old timers to offering hope to the parents of a couch-bound Asthmatic child in Iceland. I'm very thankful to be cycling and sharing. I'm very thankful...period. I've even written a book about it, released in December 2016.
In 2015 I discovered Charity Miles. Founded by athletic fundraising guru, Gene Gurkoff, Charity Miles is built around an innovative App which allows everyday people to move with a purpose. It's clean, simple and no one is selling anything. You start up the App, pick a cause from their growing list of reputable charities, then head out for a run, walk or some cycling. When you're done, corporate sponsors donate to your chosen cause on your behalf. In 2016, I was extended the honor of becoming a Charity Miles Ambassador and log training miles for special causes every week with more than 2,500 behind me to date.
In September 2016, I rode 369 miles across New York State to promote Charity Miles - #StandingNY - no coasting, no sitting. For 10 days I recruited new App users and logged my miles for Feeding America which helps feed millions of starving people in the U.S. every year. For me, Charity Miles is more like a lifestyle than fancy tech or fundraising. A lifestyle of activity, wellness and giving back. I'm very proud to be a part of the Charity Miles movement. #everymilematters www.charitymiles.org
Founder of Team Standing Cyclist
Early in 2014, I had decided to expand Standing Cyclist to include other athletic endeavors rather than restrict it to cycling. Shortly after that, l pulled together all-things-Standing Cyclist under one "roof"...resulting in Team Standing Cyclist.
In short, Team SC spotlights and promotes amateur and professional athletes who bicycle, run, walk, climb, swim...as a tribute or to raise awareness and funds for special causes/charities, around the globe. Supported by loyal sponsors and partners, TeamStandingCyclist.com pulls together:
- A steady flow of social media posts, from event participants and organizations, that illustrate the personal side of "athletics for a cause"
- The promotion of related events, athletes and volunteers across social networks and via other marketing means
- My own Blog
- The original StandingCyclist.com website
- The opportunity to join the growing Team SC community of passionate participants and supporters
- Links to Team SC on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
I, myself, continue to train and tour "standing up" on a seatless fixed-gear bicycle in support of Team Standing Cyclist, Mesothelioma Cancer awareness, Charity Miles (as a CM Ambassador) and other special initiatives.