Wheel Love: For Many, Cycling is More than a Sport

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By Chelsea Midlarsky Special to The Pineapple

My love for cycling started a decade ago when I started riding with my family. I remember taking rides with my parents and my brother Michael every weekend over the years….an activity that continues to this day. Each Sunday leading up to the Delray Beach Twilight Festival, a 2nd year event happening March 23 that attracts more than 700 amateur and professional bicycle racers, we meet up to cycle with others who share our passion. The rides have grown to about 60 cyclists each week that we group into three levels, including beginners who start at 14 miles an hour. Through our weekly gatherings we have met many talented and all-around great people…many of whom have made their own matches through cycling and share their love of the sport. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would reflect upon stories of love, hope and teamwork.

I met Jeff and Christina Fleming years ago when they participated in weekly Sunday rides. Married for 26 years, Jeff and Christina have rode together all over the world with cycling trips in Europe, California and Colorado. The couple was faced with their biggest challenge last year when Jeff was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a disease that he continues to fight. Jeff, who has always been a rider, introduced Christina to the sport and she was immediately hooked. Despite Jeff’s diagnosis and treatments, the couple continues to ride together as much as possible and plan on participating in the March race.

It was cycling that brought Skip Guarniere and Amy Good together one year ago, they met while riding. Amy, who has been riding for five years, was just recovering from a back injury that had her off the bike for 6 months. The pair met as Amy was struggling to finish the ride in pain. Skip introduced himself as an exercise physiologist (which Amy was also studying at the time) and talked about his personal training studio that helps people recover from similar back injuries. They realized they had much in common including cycling and exercise physiology. The two have been dating ever since and now operate their businesses together – his Synergy Personal Training and hers Velocity Training Institute – in Pineapple Grove. They will both participate in this year’s event. Anyone with a bike and an interest in cycling is welcome to join the Delray Twilight Festival group for weekly Sunday rides. For more information, join our Facebook page or visit our website at www.delraybeachtwilight.com. We announce all the details for the coming week on Mondays. There is no cost to participate. The Delray Beach Twilight Festival will include events for all ages and levels to include The Granfondo Garneau Florida, presented by The Delray Beach Twilight ($125 pp) including a custom jersey and Bib timing; Twilight Kids’ Race for children ages 3 – 10 (FREE); Amateur Men’s Criterium for intermediate and advanced USCF riders; Twilight Children’s Parade; Women’s Criterium for elite and advanced women athletes; three 30 minute Keith King BMX stunt shows between 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Pro Men’s Criterium for professional and elite athletes to include current and former Olympic athletes, national and international champions. Proceeds raised through this event will benefit KIDS in Distress, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and the YMCA Bike Program. The Festival is also hosting a Kick-off Party on Thursday, January 31 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Solita Delray. 25 NE 2nd Avenue. The event is open and free to the public. Guests will enjoy a fashion show with models displaying top-of-the-line bicycles and racing attire from multiple participating cycling shops; a Sexy Leg Contest; raffle and Celebrity Cycling auction to include one-on-one training and riding lessons with some of the area’s most accomplished cyclists. Proceeds from the Kick- off event will benefit Kids in Distress and Gumbo Limbo. For more information, visit www.delraybeachtwilight.com or call 561-869-4916.  

Chelsea Midlarsky is Founder of the Delray Beach Twilight Festival