When it is personal, it matters

July 7, 2014 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

MS-TeamStrategies-v2aOn June 28-29, five riders on Team Strategies departed the UMass Campus in Boston and began a 155-mile, two-day ride to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. This was the sixth time I did the MS Cape Cod Getaway Ride. As in past years, I managed to convince two new riders to join our team. I tell them it is an experience of a lifetime that they will never forget. I tell them the hills aren’t too bad on Cape Cod. And I tell them that we’re riding to raise money for a worthy cause. One of the new riders was Ronit Enos, a salon owner from Hingham, MA. The other new rider was my nephew, Adam Ducoff from New Jersey. Rounding out our team were Sonny Rapozo of East Falmouth, MA, and Robert Korpak, my neighbor from Old Saybrook, CT – both of whom I introduced to distance cycling a number of years ago.

I ride for two very personal reasons. First, I ride to stay fit and to challenge myself physically and mentally. Second, I ride for my niece, Carrie Ducoff Comer, who was diagnosed with MS seven years ago. After last year’s MS Cape Cod Getaway Ride, I “convinced” my 42-year old nephew Adam to ride with me for his sister … and in memory of his father, my brother, who passed away two and a half years ago.

There are two parts to doing a charity ride – the fundraising part and the actual riding part. Team Strategies is a very small team compared to the big fundraising teams with 175 riders that consistently raise over $250,000 each year. But our little team, based on dollars per rider, is pretty impressive. In 2013, and again this year, our five riders raised over $15,000. Since 2008, I have personally raised over $25,000 for MS.

But raising money is simply the work of participating in a fundraising cycling event. It’s the actual ride that tests your mental and physical endurance. Like I said, I love to recruit people … perhaps “hoodwink” is a better word … into the sport of long-distance cycling and the MS Cape Cod Getaway Ride. I always remember the feeling of elation, pride and personal fulfillment as I crossed the finish line that very first time. It’s a feeling unlike any other, and the best way to relive that moment is share it with first-time riders.

MS-neil&adam-v1Last January, Adam came up to Connecticut to go bike shopping with me. Now, bike shopping with me means you’re going to spend way more than you ever imagined on a bike. Adam’s budget was $700 and the bike shop showed him nice aluminum bikes in that range. Then I had them bring out the carbon fiber bikes. You guessed it – Adam bought a beautiful $2,200 Specialized Roubaix.

Adam struggled the first day on the hills. I stayed with him and encouraged him to press on. It was slow going and completing the 75 miles on day one took about seven hours. He was beat … but not beaten. After dinner, I asked him if he was OK to do day two’s 80 miles. He shot back, “I came here to do this. I’m going to finish.” We headed out at 5:00 am, cranked our way over Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod and headed for Provincetown. His speed was better the second day. In defiance, he cursed at the hills as he cranked his way up. It was an emotional moment when we approached the finish line after 155 miles of riding. Adam said, “Lets cross the finish line together.” We hugged and remembered what his sister lives with every day … and felt his dad/my brother’s presence. When Adam returned home, he gave his ride medal to his sister.

Business is very much about endurance, overcoming adversity, and making it across the finish line. There are many times you must convince yourself to press on when you feel like you have nothing left to give … but you find it … and you do it. You do it because it’s personal and it matters.

If you would like to ride with Team Strategies in the 2015 MS Cape Cod Getaway Ride, click this link. 
Just keep telling yourself that Cape Cod is perfectly flat.

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Categories: Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership , Teamwork

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