March 2019 Rider Of The Month Ron Richardson

March marks the kick off of the Global ElliptiGO Riders Club Get Out And GO (GOGO) Challenge. This challenge activates riders from all around the world, encouraging them to ride farther and climb higher in the spring, summer and fall seasons. GOGO is a time when inspiring, incredible stories emerge. Our community of riders truly gets to shine and show us what they’re made of. What are they made of exactly? Strength, resilience, and positivity. This month, we want to introduce you to one incredible GERC member and GOGO participant. His story will inspire you to face your challenges and ride on.

At the completion of last year’s GOGO Challenge, Ron Richardson was riding and rebuilding his strength following a leukemia diagnosis and chemotherapy. He did not let this news or treatment stop him. He rode all 30 days in September for a total of 583 miles & over 32,000 ft of elevation gain! We talked to Ron at last year’s rally and caught up with him just a couple of weeks ago. Read our interview with Ron below!

Ron, when did you find out about your diagnosis? 

I began to notice something physically wrong in March/April 2018; my rides were getting slower, my endurance and energy were diminished.  I recognized this feeling from 12 years ago when I had my first go-around with Leukemia, so I pretty much knew what it was.  I had blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy that confirmed it in mid-May.

How would your fitness or riding be affected? Were you encouraged to keep at it?

Having gone through it before, I knew I wanted to go into chemotherapy as fit and as strong as possible. My oncologist was well aware of my active lifestyle and allowed me to postpone the treatment until after my month-long July windsurfing vacation, so I guess in a way he was telling me to stay active!  So, I kept up the riding and everything else I do so that I could be as healthy and fit as possible and to give myself the best possible chance to beat it.

We know the ElliptiGO community has been here for you through your training, your diagnosis and your recovery. Tell me what it means to you to be a part of this special group.

It’s an amazingly supportive community of people.  Many have gone through cancer treatments – most much worse than mine – and won.  It seems that, no matter where you go, everybody has somehow been connected to cancer, so the support is there.  I definitely feel blessed to have this group of outstanding people – many that I only know as names on Strava and Facebook – cheering me on.

September will be here before we know it, and the Team Challenge is definitely one of the many opportunities for camaraderie during GOGO. Tell me about your experience with it last year.

After participating in GOGO in 2017, I knew how outrageously competitive the Team Challenge gets.  I also knew at the start of September 2018 (three weeks after my chemo treatment ended) that I was still at only 40-50% of my strength/endurance capabilities.  So when Frank Blaisdell, our captain, asked everyone about their projections for the month, I let them know that I thought I could ride all 30 days, but would probably only accumulate 300 or so miles and maybe 15-20,000 feet. Even that was optimistic; I was only riding 10-12 miles at a time by the end of August.

Well, as the month went along, my competitive juices took over and my mileage and elevation kept going up.  My weeks progressed from 111, to 130, to 145, to 188.   I finished with 584 miles and 32,000 feet, and feeling like a completely different person than at the start of September! I really believe the September Team Challenge helped give me a focus and drive that ultimately made me forget about my health issues and motivated me to ride farther, faster, and higher.  Of course, the resulting benefits were that we kicked the leukemia’s BUTT!

Amazing! What ElliptiGO models do you ride, Ron? How have they impacted your health and fitness?

Too many!  My original is a 2014 8C.  I added an Arc 8 in 2016, then an 8S in 2017. Now, we’ve added a SUB and an 11R!

My bikes helped me get my health and fitness back after the chemo treatment.  As a college P.E. professor, I pride myself in staying in shape and trying to be a good role model for my students.  When I was still running (before my knee replacement 8+ years ago) I didn’t really worry about what I would do for a daily workout; I just ran every day and raced a lot.  After I couldn’t run, I struggled to find an outdoor activity that filled that void.  The VersaClimber is awesome, but it kept me indoors.  ElliptiGO bikes allowed me to get back outside and gave me a similar ‘runner’s high’ that I’d been missing.

Two benefits really stand out:  the zero-impact workout while being outside, and the amazing community of new-found ElliptiGO friends I have.

What’s the latest on your health, Ron? How are you feeling?

My blood tests indicate that the Leukemia is in the rear-view mirror.  Hopefully, the treatment has bought me another 12 years!  I was on quite a roll (no pun intended) after September.  I even ended 2018 with PR’s for miles ridden (4,200) and elevation gain (212,000 feet).  I averaged almost 500 miles/month for the last 4 months of the year!  The health is good. I’ve gotten 18 days of skiing in 2019 so far, and I’m looking forward to a bunch more through the spring.

And, of course, I’m in for GOGO again.  This year I’m hoping to do some organized rides (metric century, etc…) to  boost my point totals to the next level;  I’ve gotta earn some more cool ElliptiGO swag!  I’m excited that my wife Barbara is also enrolled in GOGO this year as well.  We are planning to make it back down to the Rally in Solana Beach in October, and perhaps we’ll both do Palomar this year!

Ready to overcome your obstacles and achieve more than you believed possible? Join Ron and our community of riders: check out our bikes, get connected to our community and join the GOGO Challenge today!

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