Ohio knows how to pedal its way to success and three local YMCA locations proved it last month.
The North Canton, Jackson and Lake YMCA’s all took part in the Expresso Road Warrior challenge, with participants teaming up to see how many miles they could ride on Expresso bikes.
The North Canton YMCA was tops in the nation with 14,115 miles ridden and 510,210 calories burned, while Lake ranked 27th and Jackson was 47th against hundreds of locations around the nation
“These challenges happen on a regular basis for Expresso. We started promoting it more and then the group itself really took it on,” North Canton YMCA wellness director Shawn Wise said.
Riders from the North Canton YMCA had special motivation for their rides; Wise’s son Tegan, who is 3 years old and suffers from a rare form of cancer.
“We happened to be talking about my son who has a rare form of cancer and since September is childhood cancer awareness month, bringing attention to that became a focus,” Wise said.
To win the contest, North Canton riders had to pedal past the Powhatan YMCA in Richmond, Va. The Powhatan location has dominated recent Expresso challenges, but North Canton outdistanced their rivals by more than 4,000 miles this time around.
The plan is to present the trophy commemorating the win to Tegan so he can truly be a part of the winning effort.
Dozens of members took part in the challenge, with riders ranging from teenagers to those in their 70s. Of that number, 32 earned a special online badge by meeting an individual goal of riding 100 miles in September
YMCA member Pam Christ set a personal goal of 1,000 miles for the month and reaching her goal was just part of what she took from the event.
“This has been great. I have made so many new friends and become such a tight little community all with the same goal,” Christ said.
Wise echoed her thoughts, having taken part in some of the rides and witnessed the camaraderie among those who rode.
The goals began small, perhaps 20 miles a day, and built throughout the month, according to Wise. The monthly Expresso challenges began in 2013 as an effort to connect and expand the community of those who use the company’s fully interactive virtual reality bike for workouts.
North Canton YMCA officials say the Expresso bike area has become the busiest area in the facility, with riders racking up the miles from the time the building opens until the doors close in the evening.
Many Ohio YMCA locations participated in September, but the top three from the state all came from Stark County. Lake and Jackson’s top-50 finishes earned them spots among the top 20 percent nationally and the closest area competitor to the Stark County trio was the Wadsworth YMCA, which finished 140th.
While health benefits are an obvious reason to ride or take part in such an event, Wise pointed to less tangible rewards for those who decided to contribute to the winning effort.
“I can’t say enough about how they came together as a small community themselves,” Wise said. “In the end, it was more than than just the calories burned. It’s getting stronger and healthier and connecting with each other. It’s incredible to see group start the way they did at the beginning of the month and where they went from there.”
The next challenge is defending the newly won title and while it took a lot of work - along with gallons of sweat and replenishing fluids - to get to the top, the Expresso riders of the North Canton YMCA, Lake YMCA and Jackson YMCA have proven that they will go the extra mile in the name of health and community.
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