Find Out Why the Hearts for Our Hospital Bike Weekend is So Unique

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Hey, this is Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Welcome to our live stream this morning.

Jim Dodson: Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Welcome to our live stream this morning. Today, we have Pat Gillis, who is the ride director for the Hearts at the Hospital ride being held next weekend, up in the villages. Morning, Pat.

Pat Gillis: Good morning, Jim. It's great to be here.

Jim Dodson: Thank you, I know you're dealing with a little bit of a cold issue thanks to the grandkids.

Pat Gillis: Yes, I fell victim to the cold bugs. So if I start breaking down into a Barry White tune here, you'll know exactly why.

Jim Dodson: So Pat, a lot of people may not know two things. First off, The Villages is a unique place for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that you're the only League of American Bicyclists Gold-Level city in Florida. Is that correct?

Pat Gillis: That is correct. We just recently got that award from the League of American Bicyclists, having four years ago came in at the silver level. So we're very excited about that, that is a testament to the community.

Jim Dodson: So what does it mean to me, as someone who's interested in riding a bicycle do?

Pat Gillis: I’m sorry?

Jim Dodson: What does it mean, to me, if I'm considering riding a bicycle in The Villages, what does that status as gold-level in the LAB mean?

Pat Gillis: Really, it signifies that the community here has a very, very robust infrastructure to welcome cyclists into the community. So from the very beginning, with the rolled out of The Villages, there's a massive infrastructure of multi-modal paths that allow for cyclists to move from one location to the other. There's a tremendous amount of bicycling education that's done within the community. So all of that goes into the formula, if you will, that LAB uses for making decisions about award levels for the different communities.

Jim Dodson: Alright, so I wanted to mention that because we're gonna encourage people to come to The Villages who may have never been there. Certainly people that don't live in The Villages. Tell us a little bit about the Hearts for the Hospital ride that you're having next weekend.

Pat Gillis: Right. So this weekend coming up, the 9th through the 11th, we have what we call the Big Bike Weekend, but the main event is the bicycle challenge that is going to be on Saturday. And that is a charity event that supports The Villages' Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of The Villages' Regional Hospital. So the riders that will be participating in the ride, we ask them to raise a little bit of money along the way to help our cause and then, we reach out to the sponsors throughout The Villages’ community, who will also help us with that. And it's been a tremendously successful event over the course of this will be the fourth year of the event and we're very excited to be able to talk to folks about it.

Jim Dodson: I know that I've been up there for probably each of the four years, I'm not sure, but every year, it gets better. And I know that every year, there's an emphasis on making changes to the event itself, and to the expo before the event, and the food after the event, and what have you. Tell us a little bit about the ride options. And I know you've got kind of a broad range of ride options and I'm gonna talk about the rest areas because there's some interesting stuff there that you want your riders to know.

Pat Gillis: Oh yeah, absolutely. So this year, as last year, we have five different ride options for individuals to participate in. We start off with a family friendly 10-mile route. Individuals will basically be able to go out on that, and we'll also provide ride marshals that will help them along the way. So we call the 10-mile route the Nitrous Oxide because you'll feel no pain as you go through that. It will include a rest stop, as well. And then, we have a 20-mile route, a 32, 64 and then a hundred-mile route. So we have a ride for just about anybody that is interested in spending some time on a bike on a Saturday.

Jim Dodson: And I know that many times, you talk about the hundred being a great warm up for the Horrible Hundred, which will be the following weekend, up at Clermont. Is that right?

Pat Gillis: That is correct. The Horrible Hundred coming up the weekend afterwards, this is a great opportunity to lay down some base miles. The routes, one could say they're almost flat as a pancake. We have about 11 hundred feet worth of elevation gain on the hundred-mile route, and then somewhere around 900 on the 64, and then it drops down from there to the 10-mile route has about 240 feet worth of elevation gain on that. So it is a great opportunity to lay down some good miles and not have to worry about a lot of hill climbing, which when you see central Florida, sometimes, you might think that there's a lot of hills. But not the case with the routes that we ride here, within The Villages.

Jim Dodson: So a lot of people don't understand the magnitude of what The Villages is today. I think that the footprint of The Villages actually sits in three separate counties up there. Used to all be in Sumter, no longer. I think there's over 120,000 residents in The Villages, from what I understand. Got between 50 and 65 thousand golf carts in The Villages. So how much of the ride would I get to see The Villages if I were doing everything, but the hundred, for instance, or the 64?

Pat Gillis: If you do the 10, the 20, and the 32, those are all contained exclusively within The Villages. And you'll get an opportunity to tootle along the boulevards that we have here, as well as some of the side communities that comprise The Villages. So it's a great opportunity to see and appreciate what The Villages has to offer. Now, those rides, they will be on the road. So we won't be tootling around on multi-modals with this event, but certainly for other individuals and other ride times, a lot of people take advantage of the multi-modals. The 64 and the hundred, they really get us outside of The Villages, so for those two rides, you get a chance to experience riding in the more rural areas of Sumter County and will also get a little bit of Lake County and Marion County, as well.

Jim Dodson: Okay. So gimme a break-down of how many people are gonna participate traditionally in the 10 and the 20, versus the 32 and 64 and the hundred.

Pat Gillis: Right, we're estimating that we'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of about 400 riders for the event on the 10th. So the hundred-mile route will be about 20% of the total ridership. So we'll have 80 riders participating in that. And then, the 32 and the 64, they'll be the most popular two routes combined. They'll represent in the neighborhood of about 60% of the ridership. So, do the math real quick, 240 riders there. And then, the 10 and the 20-mile ride, that'll comprise the balance, which will be another 20%. Math is a wonderful thing. That'll be another 80 riders there.

Jim Dodson: Okay. And I know that one of the things that is unusual, probably, for those of us who do rides like this, you normally think you're gonna stop somewhere, there's gonna be a tent on the side of the road, there's gonna be a portalet and maybe, it's gonna be on an angle and all these things that you deal with. Not at The Villages. Tell us about the rest stops.

Pat Gillis: Right, okay. So for the rides that are within The Villages, exclusively, the 10, the 20, and the 32, all of the rest stops there will be at one of the various recreations centers that we have. So there'll be really, really nice restrooms to take advantage of so you won't be visiting a porta potty on those. And then, outside The Villages, we have strategically located those rest stops at either a public park, which will have a restroom there, or we take advantage of the partners that we have participating in the ride and utilize those facilities. So, Lake Sumter State College, we'll be utilizing their Summerville campus. And they'll have nice restrooms and a area for a good rest stop. And then, the girl scout camp out in Wildwood lets us utilize their facilities. So we're very grateful to our sponsors for being able to take advantage of the facilities that they have to offer and give our riders a very, very good experience.

Jim Dodson: Well, I know, too, that you have an amazing support staff that runs this ride in terms of sag, law enforcement. Tell the viewers something about what you've got going on there that really has the best interest of the riders covered from stat to finish.

Pat Gillis: Right. To that point, we have what we think is an absolutely phenomenal relationship with the law enforcement in the local area. The Sumter County Sheriff's Office, they run point on all of our interactions with law enforcement. Within it, Seamer is our main point of contact, but we'll have law enforcement support from Marion County and the Lady-Lake Police Department and obviously, Sumter County, as well. And they will provide assistance through the intersections, as well as watching for the riders as they go through the various roundabouts. And we have a handful of roundabouts, here in The Villages, which makes it a very interesting and unique riding experience. But the law enforcement will be there to help with the vehicle traffic and the roundabouts. And then, we have a really nice relationship with Dovetails, the Sumter County Amateur Radio Emergency Services and with our law enforcement. And they will have vehicles out on the road and they will sweep each of our rides. And inside each of the trucks that they'll have out on the road will be a hand radio operator with a transponder, and we will be tied into a digital network. And back at the command center, at the La Hacienda Recreation Center there'll be a large screen TV. And on a real-time basis, we'll be able to monitor the progress of all five of the route options, as they make their way through the course. So we'll know where the last rider is with each of our routes and be able to reach out to any of the hand radio operators that are out in trucks, the direct resources to a rider that might have a problem. So it's a fantastic relationship that we have here.

Jim Dodson: Well, I think people, particularly a lot of people who don't do a lot of events, but maybe want to expand what they do, they've ridden 30, they'd like to do 64, but they have a little anxiety, they don't wanna get stuck out there somewhere. I mean, it's really comforting to know that you're gonna know where the last rider is. And there's always gonna be someone coming behind you. You never have to worry that you're the last one out there, by yourself, if you have a breakdown or a mechanical failure.

Pat Gillis: Exactly. And that's one of the great things about events such as this and if you're out there and you're used to riding 32 miles in a club ride and you decide, "This is the time I wanna do a 64," events like this are the perfect opportunity to do that because we truly have your back when you undertake a step up like that. So if you decide, suddenly, that you have bit off a little bit more than you can chew, we'll get you back to the finish line and we'll have an ice cold beer waiting for you there. So no time like next Saturday to bite off that next level event for you.

Jim Dodson: Well, good. I think it's great to encourage people to move beyond what you're used to and experience something different. I think this is a great ride. We really enjoy being a partner to the event each year. I know that the start and finish is all at the La Hacienda Village Center, is that correct?

Pat Gillis: That is correct. It's 1200 Avienda Central, and in The Villages, yes. Start and finishes there, as well as the events on Friday and Sunday that we'll talk about a little bit later.

Jim Dodson: So the other thing is that at the end of the ride, this is November, but for you, it's still gonna be October. And you're gonna have a little bit of an October Fest going on. Tell us about that.

Pat Gillis: Right. The October Fest in November is what we'll be having. So at the ride finish, underneath the big tent, we'll have Das Krankenhaus Biergarten. And I'll let people go off and look up what Das Krankenhaus is and then, get a little bit of a chuckle out of that when they find out what it stands for. But we'll be serving up beer. Each rider gets a free beer and then, they can purchase supplemental beers and wine, to be honest, for $2 a piece. But in addition to the beer that will be flowing there, we'll also have DJ Bavarian Oscar, who is fresh off his world wind tour through Central Florida of the various October Fest events. And he'll be spinning up October Fest tunes for us. And then, we will have members from the Deutscher Club, which is one of the many clubs that reside within The Villages. They will be on hand. They'll be wearing lederhosen and dirndls. And they'll be adding to the cultural authenticity of our bier garten. They'll be, obviously, sharing in a few libations throughout the afternoon and then, leading us along with toasts, as well as a couple of polkas along the way.

Jim Dodson: Well, my son lives in Salt Lake City and we were out there in September and went to a big October Fest up at Park City, which they have every year and really, a great October Fest is fun. It's just no question about it. It's a fun event and I applaud you for really getting these things really revved up.

Pat Gillis: And we do have a super secret little golf cart that's all tricked out to look like a beer keg. That'll be on hand, as well. So we have a lot of little surprises out there.

Jim Dodson: Yeah good.

Pat Gillis: We're leaving the two rest stops on the 64 and the hundred-mile. As you get past the halfway points on those, we'll have a extra special little treat for the riders rolling through those rest stops.

Jim Dodson: So Pat hasn't told me what they are, but he's alluded to the fact in each conversation we've had about something special at these rest stops. I'm curious to find out what they are, actually.

Pat Gillis: Well, I'm not gonna let the cat outta the bag completely, but I'll just say keeping with the German theme, And if you understand what that quote goes to, I've let the cat completely out of the bag.

Jim Dodson: Your secret is safe with me.

Pat Gillis: Okay.

Jim Dodson: My college German didn't follow that, at all.

Pat Gillis: Alright.

Jim Dodson: So a couple things. I know that registration's still open. At this point, registration is $60. Is that correct?

Pat Gillis: Yes, we've moved into our late registration window. Dun dadun dunn. So it'll be $60 between now and race day. And then on race day, it'll jump to $70. So please don't wait 'til that day to register. Save yourself the $10 and jump in now. The weather forecast looks absolutely fantastic for Saturday.

Jim Dodson: Well also for The Florida Bike Guy and for our live stream, we've got a $5 coupon we're gonna put on the screen. We're gonna link to go to, you can get another $5 off the registration. So register now while it's $60, save $5 bucks, and you won't have to pay the enhanced $70 if you change your mind and wanna come over there, at the last minute.

Pat Gillis: Correct. So JDL5 getchya that $5 off the $60 registration.

Jim Dodson: And where are you going for registration? Hey, Mike. Thanks for joining us today, Mike. Where do they have to go for the registration? I know CAAM Events is running your registration.

Pat Gillis: CAAM Events. Race Roster is the location for registration. They can also register, if they're a little bit hesitant about using online, they can come to the bike expo that is on Friday, the ninth of November. Also, at La Hacienda, that would be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They can register in person, at that point and time, as well as pick up ride packets.

Jim Dodson: Alright, before we move in to the expo in Friday, I just wanna remind you this is Jim Dodson. I'm The Florida Bike Guy. If you don't know me, those in the cycling world know who I am. I am an injury lawyer and we represent cyclists throughout Florida, but we also represent people in car crashes and other traditional injury claims, as well. I always tell cyclists they're more likely to know someone who's involved in a car crash than in a bike crash, fortunately. So whatever your need, we are here for you. And so continuing, for a minute, with our program. The expo on Friday. I always go up on Friday and spend the night because I enjoy going around the expo and seeing what you have. You've got a real variety of vendors there. So why don't you talk about that a minute, Pat?

Pat Gillis: Right, okay. So Friday is a cycling expo and again, it's at the La Hacienda Recreation Center. We'll be taking over the inside of the building, as well as the parking lot. And our theme, this year, is eBikes. So we will have a whole bunch of eBikes for individuals to actually jump on and take a test ride, a demo ride. So we'll have eBikes from Specialized, Giant, Trek on hand for individuals to take out on the roads and see what it's actually like to be riding on electronic-assisted bicycles. But if you're not interested in the eBikes, we'll have regular bicycles, as well, for people to...

Jim Dodson: So I know David's World is coming up. And I know David's World is bringing the Trek products with their eBikes, as well. And I think you told me the Specialized trailer, that you sometimes see at The Horrible Hundred and some of the other events, will be there. And they usually have 20 or 30 bikes on the trailer, in addition to their eBikes. Is that correct?

Pat Gillis: Yes, Specialized will be there, correct.

Jim Dodson: I will just say that if you haven't ridden an eBike, and you have any curiosity about eBikes, this is the thing to do. Take advantage of this opportunity. The La Hacienda is going to have the expo inside, but you'll see the bikes outside, where they're set up for the demos. And they'll be out there with the trailers. Ya know, when you come back from a ride on an eBike, you will have a hard time getting a grin off your face. They are a hoot to ride and I think it's gonna open the eyes of a lot of people to what a real addition to the cycling world eBikes will become and really, clearly are becoming. They are really coming on strong. They're the wave of the future, in so many ways. I don't think they're gonna replace our traditional road bikes, but they certainly have a place in the bike world. And I think it's fun that you're gonna have that. I'm looking forward to trying some myself again.

Pat Gillis: Yeah, I too can eBike out for a test ride and I won't say I'm anxiously awaiting the time in my life when I want to transition from a regular bike to an eBike, but lemme tell ya I am less apprehensive about when that day ultimately arrives. Because the eBike really provides you a chance to stay out there, riding, with your peers in old age. We know it's gonna happen. When that day comes, when you just don't have the legs, anymore, to do it, the ability to stay with some of your riders and enjoy the post-ride camaraderie. And then, for those who have a spouse that doesn't ride quite at the same level, it's a great opportunity to be able to have them join you on your rides.

Jim Dodson: And really, I would mention to go to our website and look at the Facebook Live we did with Phil and Pedelec down in Punta Gorda. 'Cause he explained the differences in the mechanism in eBikes. There's two different versions of eBikes, in terms of the power assist, how they work, and the features to look for. And I think it'd be a good primmer before you go up and start looking at them. Particularly, if you have an concerns, you might wanna actually leave with one, someday. Talk about some of the vendors that are gonna be at the expo there, Pat.

Pat Gillis: We'll have a number of vendors from cycling vacations to health care organizations that'll be doing some very rudimentary health examinations, what have you. We'll have Tear Trike there, Cat Trike. Obviously, we've already mentioned that we'll have Giant, Specialized, and Trek there. Our local bicycle shops will be on hand. Village Cycles, as well as David's World Cycle. David's World Cycle, by the way, is one of our two title sponsors. Of course, Diagnostics is the other one. So we're extremely excited to have a whole plethora of vendors here, helping us with this event, including The Frame Doctor, who is coming in.

Jim Dodson: Oh, I need to talk to him.

Pat Gillis: Everybody has a carbon bike. He's an interesting individual and does amazing work on carbon bike repairs.

Jim Dodson: I need to talk to him, I need to find out who he is. I've heard much about what he does. And we have a question from Mike. Mike, I appreciate you submitting your question and if you're watching and you have a question, put it on the screen. If it's something that we can't get to, you do it maybe after we sign off. We'll definitely respond to you. Mike wants to know if the event is always the second weekend in November.

Pat Gillis: 9 times out 10, it will be the second weekend in November, but there are times when we actually go the week before The Horrible Hundred. We won't attempt to compete with The Horrible Hundred. So there are some timings, with leap year and alignment of Mars and Venus and all this stuff, where it might not be exactly the second weekend. It could be the first, but we will know that well in advance and it'll be out on our calendar. But buy and large, it is the second weekend in November.

Jim Dodson: Aren't they a vendor there every year, the Vermont Travel Club something?

Pat Gillis: The Vermont Bicycle Tours, they have been there for many years, but this year, they're not going to be there, in person.

Jim Dodson: Okay, alright. So have you had an opportunity to plug your sponsors? I know I wanted to get that in.

Pat Gillis: Yeah, well there is an absolute ton of them, but clearly, there are two primary sponsors, our title sponsors. Quest Diagnostics, they've been with us since the beginning and have just re-upped, as well, to continue on with us. And then this year, we're welcoming on board David's World Cycle and they have signed up for a multi-year commitment to us. And we are just incredibly excited to have those two individual organizations providing us a tremendous amount of support for this event. In addition to them, we have an embarrassment of riches within The Villages’ community, in terms of sponsors. If you go out the website, it's just sponsor after sponsor after sponsor contributing in big and small ways. And in addition to the sponsors, we have an embarrassment of riches with the volunteers that help us with the Friday event. And then, with Saturday and then, our Sunday, which we haven't had a chance to talk about too much, is our club rides, which is essentially the Sumter Laney Bicycle Club providing individuals an opportunity to participate in what is, in essence, our club rides. They're no drop and we have different pace groups that are going out. We thought we had that turned off.

Jim Dodson: Well, it wouldn't be a live stream without something going on like that, that's fine.

Pat Gillis: Yeah, at east nobody's breaking in to the house right now. Yes, but so we have club rides that'll be going out Sunday. Also, from La Hacienda, so like we said, everything takes place at the La Hacienda Recreation Center.

Jim Dodson: So does that mean that if I'm up there as a guest, or wanna just check out what the club rides are like, I'm not a member of the club, I can come ride a club ride on Sunday?

Pat Gillis: Absolutely. And you'll sign a one time waiver that'll get you covered under our umbrella gap insurance for the event, but it's just an opportunity to come and experience what riding is like in The Villages. The event is the event and obviously, there'll be a lot more resources dedicated to that. But if you are interested in retiring into our community, this'll give you a chance to see what cycling is like on a day-to-day basis, with a club, in The Villages.

Jim Dodson: So you're a member of the Sumter Landing Bike Club. There are two clubs up in The Villages. You're the larger of the two. So just tell us a minute about the club, how big it is and kind of things you do.

Pat Gillis: Yeah, we actually have a handful of clubs. The Sumter Landing Bicycle Club is the largest. We're about 900 members, right now.

Jim Dodson: Pretty good size.

Pat Gillis: We ride five days a week. Thursdays and Sundays are the days that we don't ride, but there's The Village Bicycle Club. They're a little bit smaller than us, in the 100 to 200 rider range. And they'll ride when we don't ride, plus the days that we ride as well. So literally you can ride seven days a week in The Villages, during the day when the sun is out. So as a retirement community, if you're looking for someplace to go to when you retire, where you can ride every single day of the week, this is a absolutely phenomenal place to do that. And then in addition to those two clubs, we also have a tandem club, the Panthers, and they ride here, as well. And there's--

Jim Dodon: Yeah, you have to ride tandem--

Pat Gillis: Cross-pollination between all three of those clubs.

Jim Dodson: And the tandem club is always represented at the Expo. They'll be there on Friday, if you want to meet them. They're an interesting group of people, and they've got fascinating bicycles or tandems. Dr. Mirkin and his wife ride probably one of the more fascinating custom tandems that I've ever seen.

Pat Gillis: That they do, and on Saturday, they will have some club members that'll be dedicated to helping us with one of our SAG stops, the one out at Marsh Bend Outlet Park by Lake Panasoffkee. So everybody helps make this event happen.

Jim Dodson: So Pat, I appreciate the time you've given us, this morning. It's been really interesting for me. I appreciate everyone joining us, today. Kati's putting the link on the screen. Get your registration, get your $5 savings to register with the link. I'll be up there. We look forward to seeing you all there. Come over and introduce yourself to me, if you're there. Next week, we're speaking to Louis McDonald, who is the ride director for the Horrible Hundred. Everybody knows about the Horrible Hundred. And Louis will be telling us what's going on there, this year, and getting us ready to participate in that, as well. So it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. I want you to thank you for joining us, today. Till next week, be safe out there. Take care.

Pat Gillis: Thank you, Jim, appreciate the opportunity.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.