Are You Curious about Biking the Only LAB Gold-Level in The Villages?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Good morning, it's Jim Dodson the Florida Bike Guy. So, are you interested in riding the only league of American bicyclist gold-level community in central Florida? Up in The Villages, so this is the opportunity for the Hearts For the Hospital charity ride, which is gonna be on excuse me, November 9th, Saturday. We got Pat Gillis with us, who's running this on behalf of the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club. So good morning Pat, how are you?

Pat Gillis: Good morning, I'm doing great..

Jim Dodson: So we talked to Pat last year, and many people signed up and enjoyed the event last year and there's always updates and there's things that they're doing this year that are improvements over last year. This is a great event to get behind, this supports the hospital up in The Villages and all of the things that they do, they are very important for their community. And it is really an opportunity to get up there and ride, it's an amazing experience if you haven't been to The Villages, most of the rides are within the confines of The Villages, the longer ones go out and Pat'll talk to us about that. So Pat, why do we do this event, and that's the support for?

Pat Gillis: Well, the event is designed to support The Village's Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation, and they're the fundraising arm, really, of The Village's Regional Hospital. And the money that we raise through the bicycle challenge is used in two primary areas to support their efforts. The first is for capital-equipment acquisition. We utilize some of the money, about half of it, to go into programs that the foundation coordinates with the hospital to buy equipment for the hospital. One of the more important and recent acquisitions that they went through was for a digital-hybrid vascular surgical suite, which is a great piece of equipment, that the hospital has brought online quite recently, and it really allows vascular surgeons to run the whole gamut of interventions for someone that's having a vascular issue within a single location and not have to transport the patient from the cath lab, to the O.R., what have you. So that's pretty significant, in terms of being able to improve patient care. The other part of the money that is raised through the bicycle challenge goes for scholarships to area high school graduating seniors that are pursuing a degree program in a medical or allied health-related field. And the neat thing about it is once the student qualifies for the scholarship is they will retain that for the two or four years that they're in college or university, so long as they retain good academic standing with the university. So we're very, very excited about how the money is being utilized by the foundation, and just as an aside, on the scholarship side, we also have kind of a unique little relationship that's embedded within the foundation and that's for Project SOS, which is Save Our Soldiers. We partner with them to provide, through the scholarship program, scholarships to children or grandchildren of veterans, many of whom actually live out in the Ocala National Forest, and literally in the forest, so they help these kids get out of the forest, get to our public school systems, and when they're ready to graduate from high school, if they're able to pursue a career in the medical or allied health-related fields, we're there to help them with scholarships to pursue that education. So we're very, very excited about the relationship that we have with the foundation in all those regards. Through--

Jim Dodson: A great--

Pat Gillis: Pardon.

Jim Dodson: project to get behind. For those of us who are cyclists, there's two aspects of this, we'd register and we can also donate money to be, towards the project, and I know that over the course of time, you guys have raised almost $200,000 since the bike club's gotten involved and supported this event. Is that correct?

Pat Gillis: That's absolutely correct, about $191,000 so far, that's through four years, definitely on a exponential track in terms of the money that is being raised through the event, and that's all as a result of the kind efforts of the individuals that signed up to register for the ride, collect pledges, and also through our sponsors. Last year, for the scholarships, we issued 15 new scholarships, and that brought the total scholarships that have been issued under the auspices of the Hearts For Our Hospital bicycle challenge to 88 area high school students. So we're very, very proud of that.

Jim Dodson: This is more than a bicycle ride on Saturday. You have your expo on Friday. If you haven't been to the expo, I go every year because I think it's pretty fascinating. I know this year, last year you had e-bike set up, and I'm always curious about the e-bike pavilion. The expo is within the expo hall, but outside is the e-bike situation, corral, I guess. And this year I think you've got two people, two dealers bringing e-bikes, David's Cycle World and what is it, The Village's Bicycle Shop, and they're both gonna have e-bikes with Giant, Specialized in Trek, so tell us a little bit about the opportunity to kinda get on board an e-bike and see what it's like.

Pat Gillis: The cycling expo is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. So we try to cram as much as we can within that window there. This year, as you mentioned, we will have David's World Cycle and Village Cycles there with e-bikes. We'll have the opportunity for individuals to actually jump on the e-bikes and take them out for a spin, which is really about the only way to truly appreciate what the e-bike can bring to you in terms of extending your ability to cycle and how long you can cycle. Understanding that The Villages is kind of a retirement community, we have the opportunity to extend the riding life of a lot of the individuals up here as they transition from traditional bikes to e-bikes. E-bikes will be able to participate in our bicycle challenge, as well as recumbents and trikes and traditional bikes. So those will be located out in the parking lot. Again, Specialized, Giant and Trek will be on hand with various types of e-bikes to look at and to jump up on and go out and ride. In addition to the e-bike demos, as we try to expand the appeal and what's available through the cycling expo and health fair, the A&P Cycling tour bus is going to be on hand for people to have a look at that, and if you have not seen the A&P Cycling tour bus, it is quite a treat. Phillip Deal who runs A&P Cycle Tours is basically taking your traditional tour bus and has re-done the inside of one half of that bus so that it can safely transport about 30 to 32 bicycles on secure mounts, and then the front half of the bus is traditional seating so he can transport about 32 cyclists on bicycling adventures throughout the state of Florida and elsewhere as well. So a tremendous resource to have at our fingertips, to kind of stretch the venue over which we can enjoy riding opportunities.

Jim Dodson: So the bus is pretty unique. I had an opportunity to see it when I was at a Sumter County, Central Landing Bicycle Club meeting earlier this year, pretty unique and they offer a lot of trips up there so something to definitely stop by and see. You know, one of the things, too, if you are at all interested in bicycle travel, adventure travel, you're gonna have some, at least one vendor there who's gonna give us information about that, is that correct?

Pat Gillis: Yes, well, AAA will be there, Linda Workman will be there with The Villages, well actually now it's Workman Travel & Transportation, they just very recently went through a name change. They're a partner with us, with the club as well, and also work closely with A&P Cycling Tours.

Jim Dodson: Okay, so, the rides, I know that you've got rides for everybody really, from the family to the person that wants to do the century ride. Just tell us about what you're offering.

Pat Gillis: Yeah, and clearly the bicycle challenge is the biggest event for the Big Bike Weekend. Each year we send out a survey after we have completed the ride to get some feedback from the participants and figure out what did we do right, what can we improve upon, what do we wanna make sure that we do not get rid of. And so we take that feedback and we build upon it for the next year. If we look at what's being brought back for the fifth annual edition of the Hearts for Our Hospital, we'll have our five route options again this year. So they'll range from a family-friendly 10-mile ride that we call our Nitrous Oxide because you'll feel no pain when you're through with that ride, on through, we have a 20-mile Double-Bypass. We have a Triple-Bypass, it is a 32-mile ride, Quadruple-Bypass for 64 miles. And then the 100-mile ride is what we call our Full Arrest. So the 64- and the 100-mile rides really get the riders outside of The Villages and down into the southern portion and western portions of Sumter County, though the 100-mile will get down into the Center Hill, Webster area and then come up and circle around Lake Panasoffkee, and it'll join up with the 64-mile as it goes around Lake Panasoffkee. And then both of those rides pop in at the northern end of The Villages as they return to the La Hacienda Recreation Center. So we have rest stops positioned at about every 25 miles through the course of the rides, well stocked, they all have real live restrooms so we don't have to rely on porta-potties. And new this year, on the 100 and the 64 is the Pickle Juice company has graciously donated to us a 20-liter box of pickle juice. This is a specially formulated pickle brine, if you will, that is there to fight cramps. And so we'll be dividing that up amongst the rest stops on the 64- and the 100-mile rides. And they've also donated to us a jersey that we will be putting up as part of what we'll call the Pickle Shop Parade raffle. So as riders come through the rest stops in the latter portions of the 64- and 100-mile route, they'll be able to take a pickle shot. And as they down the pickle shot they'll be able to pick up a raffle ticket that they'll bring back to them at the ride finish and fill out the Pickle Shot Parade raffle ticket, dump it into the pickle jar, and then we'll be doing a drawing from the pickle jar for someone to receive the, let's just say it's a little bit on the colorful side, the jersey. So we're looking forward to adding that into the mix to make the ride a little bit more exciting.

Jim Dodson: And this is part of the deal is to have fun--

Pat Gillis: Absolutely.

Jim Dodson: and doing some different things.

Pat Gillis: Absolutely, so we'll have the pickle shots.

Jim Dodson We were talking the other day when we were getting ready for this event, about how, like is 2020, right, and we're still punching holes in our jersey and pricking our skin with safety pins putting the bid markers on, and they've got a solution for that this year that you'll find interesting.

Pat Gillis: Yes, we're very happy to announce that we have a sponsor that is going to be providing to each and every one of our registered riders what we lovingly refer to as the BibBoard Fasteners. And if you haven't had an opportunity to see what they can do for you, you can certainly go out online to and take a look at their website. But they're plastic fasteners in lieu of the safety pins that end up stabbing and leaving you with bloody hands and, unfortunately sometimes, blood-stained jerseys before you head out on the road. Why they call them safety pins is beyond me. They're more likely unsafe pins, but anyway, we are saying goodbye to those and moving forward with the plastic fasteners that can secure the bib to your jersey. And The Villages Recreation and Parks Department has graciously come on board to help us provide those to all of our riders. So they'll be in the ride packets, and we'll certainly school you up on how to apply those to your jerseys, but it will be a safe and fun way to enjoy the ride.

Jim Dodson: So at the expo on Friday, you'll have traditional bike shops displaying bikes, you'll have equipment, you'll have medical issues, medical providers, and medical symposia going on. I think it's a very fun and interesting place. I enjoy going there, you always meet interesting people and pick up information, it's a great day to get your registration early so you don't have to worry about that on Saturday morning. One more thing on e-bikes, I've got a dear friend who's a cyclist who's a 10,000-mile-per-year rider and this person bought an e-bike this year. It's unbelievable. So he'll do his 50-mile ride in the morning, and hop on his e-bike for 50 miles in the afternoon. He just loves this e-bike. So you need to come check it out. So Pat tell us how, first off I wanna know, I know we have the five different ride lengths. How does the registration break down between those? What's the proportion of people doing the lower ones and the higher ones?

Pat Gillis: Yeah, we'll have close to 100 riders that will have, by the time we're ready to roll out on Saturday morning, signed up for the 100-mile route, and then between the 64 and 32, really close to about 200. We'll be nudging that number very easily. And then the balance of the riders are spread between the 20- and the 10-mile rides.

Jim Dodson: So what's your goal for riders this year? How many people are you hoping to have there on November 9th?

Pat Gillis: Based on registrations through today, and of course we're gonna get a huge bump from individuals watching your Facebook live streaming here, we anticipate probably about 400 riders there at ride start on Saturday morning. So we're very, very excited.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, where are we now in the registration process? What's it gonna cost? And how do they go about registering if someone wants to go?

Pat Gillis: Yeah, right now we're at the $55, which is the regular registration fee. It'll be jumping up to, what, $60, oh Let me see, I'm gonna get the exact, do, do, do, October 28th, it goes up to $60 and then the worst day is the day of event when it'll be at $70. So the earlier you register, the better. If you register by virtue of watching this email and you're following the little tag-line there at the bottom, there is a promo code that you can use at registration time that will get you a discount off of the current rate. So I would strongly encourage you to reach out as quickly as possible and register and jump on that promo-code which is JDLawFB.

Jim Dodson: So all of our friends at Jim Dodson Law get a discount for riding and I appreciate you doing that. I know this is a Cam event. Paul and his staff are running this on your behalf, have done so for the last several years.

Pat Gillis: Yep.

Jim Dodson: Should be very smoothly done as every one of his events are. I wanna thank you for joining us today, Pat. It's been an enlightening talk. I wanna encourage everybody to come out and enjoy this event, you know, just consider that every dollar you're putting into this is a dollar for a good cause, for the hospital, and for the scholarships, and for the veterans. This is really a great event, we'll be up there. Trying to entice my wife to join me this year and see if she wants a ride.

Pat Gillis: Woo hoo!

Jim Dodson: So any final thoughts, Pat, before we leave?

Pat Gillis: Yeah, just wanted to mention that, as a result of the survey that we use at the end of the ride, this year we're converting completely over to roadside signage as the directional indicators for individuals out on the ride. So instead of looking down on the pavement and hoping that the route arrow is still there and hasn't washed away, because sometimes that does happen, we'll be using the route arrows, but they're going to be placed on roadside signs so you can expect two signs prior to a turn and one confirming sign after a turn as you make your way along the route. So we're happy about that. That's an improvement, we think, over relying on the route arrows on the roads' surfaces.

Jim Dodson: So I look forward to meeting back up with you in The Villages on November 9th. This is a great event, let's get behind it, enjoy yourself, and you'll learn something if you come to the expo on Friday. Pat, I appreciate you joining us today. We'll look for you up there then and sign up everybody and enjoy. This is Jim Dodson, Florida Bike Guy, be safe out there, bye.

Pat Gillis: All right, see ya.

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