Menomonee Falls — It doesn't matter how long you've been biking. A 150-mile bike ride is tough for most people whether they're cycling pros or just learning how to ride. But for a local group of riders who recently rode in the Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour, it wasn't about that.
"Sure, it's a fun challenge and the ride itself is beautiful," said Menomonee Falls resident Erich Schmandt, "but it's ultimately all for the cause."
Schmandt was one of a team of 20 riders from Reich Tool and Design/Trinity Biomedical to participate in this year's ride, which benefits the Wisconsin Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was his fourth time riding in the two-day event, which begins at the Milwaukee Area Technical College in Mequon and continues north to Sturgeon Bay.
This year, the Reich Tool and Design/Trinity Biomedical team raised $16,000 to benefit the cause. Preparation began months before the event, both in terms of physical training as well as fundraising together as a team.
"I was pretty intimidated when I first considered doing a two-day event like this," said Schmandt, who said he has only in recent years gotten serious about cycling, "but from the enthusiasm of the event volunteers to the ride itself, everything about the ride is user-friendly, fun and relaxed."
In total, the 2014 event brought in more than $1 million for LLS.
"It's very important for businesses to team up to do things like this," said Brett Reich, who is vice president of Reich Tool and Design/Trinity Biomedical. "As the economy keeps improving, it gives Reich Tool and Trinity more of an opportunity to give back to the community, and our hearts are certainly in it to do that."
It was the second year Reich participated in the event, which he said is one of the best organized and supported events of its kind in Wisconsin.
"More importantly, you have the opportunity to meet family members of those who have lost loved ones and hear their stories," he added.
The evening of day one of the ride, riders stop at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, where they have the option to participate in a bonfire and share stories of the role blood cancer has played in their lives.
"I didn't really have a personal connection to the cause, but I'd say I do now," Schmandt said. "The stories you hear are both heartbreaking and inspiring."
After hearing such stories again this year, the meaning of the ride literally came full circle for Schmandt as he approached the finish line to see his wife and three kids holding a sign reading "Good job, daddy!"
"When you're part of something like this, you are reminded that life is a gift, not a given," Schmandt said.
By Mail: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Wisconsin Chapter, ATTN: Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour, 200 S. Executive Dr. Suite 203, Brookfield, WI 53005
By Phone: (262) 785-4272
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