Members of SUBASE Cycling Club to Ride with Tour de France Finisher during Charity Ride
EAST LYME, Conn. – Members of the SUBASE Cycling Club will be sharing the pavement one pedal at a time with the 9th place finisher in the 2011 Tour de France during a charity ride to benefit the Connecticut Chapter of the American Heart Association, Oct. 15.
Tom Danielson, an East Lyme native who attended East Lyme High School has been cycling for more than 17 years, seven of those years professionally, will participate in the charity ride. There are two different rides scheduled, a 25-mile loop and a 50-mile loop beginning and ending at the high school.
“I think this event is important to the community; it really showcases the area in southeastern Connecticut,” said Danielson. “It was really the area where I grew up that provided me everything that I needed to excel in my early years on the bike and cycling.”
Danielson said he likes to participate in events in his home town to showcase where he came from and how he was able to obtain the highest level in racing in France. “It all started for me here in East Lyme.”
While growing up in East Lyme he learned a lot about submarines from his father who retired from Electric Boat. “It was definitely something that I was interested in pursuing, but when I started to get into cycling, I really started to dream a little bit more about riding my bike for a living. “
Similar to Danielson, the SUBASE Cycling Club’s mission is to help showcase the benefits of bicycling. The charity ride is just one of many events that members of the SUBASE Bicycling club have participated in since it first formed less than a year ago in January 2011.
The club’s co-founders Lt. Cmdr. Robert Sawyer and Lt. Andrew Thorne launched their MWR-approved club as a way to organize SUBASE and local military and Navy civilian bicycle enthusiasts, but also find ways to give back to the community.
“The current membership size hovers near 70 and our members range from competitive cyclists to those who are just pondering purchasing a bicycle,” said Thorne. “With MWR recognition we could attract more people from outside of our commands to participate.”
Collectively, the group has participated in more than 80 events amassing more than 2,500 miles. Thorne, an avid bike enthusiast, became enthralled with biking more than two years ago and in so doing has lost nearly 20 pounds.
“I started in September 2009 when the boat I served aboard pulled into Electric Boat and decided I would ride by bicycle back and forth to work. Now I have ridden 9,500 miles, of which 4,000 of those miles have been accomplished this year,” said Thorne.
Thorne and Sawyer both added that since the club’s inception they have been involved in a variety of cycling activities ranging from 5 miles to more than 100 miles, involving members who expressed interest in the prearranged group fitness rides, charity rides, triathlons, road racing, and other related events.
“The Club includes people whose sole focus is triathlons, those who are involved in bicycle racing, and those who are in it for basic fitness,” said Sawyer.
Sawyer added that all riding events are arranged through the club’s Facebook group page and any member of the group can schedule a ride. The club membership is free and open to active-duty military, dependents age 14 and up, retired military, and DoD employees.
One of the other SUBASE Cycling Club members, Lt. Robert Buckles shared how he first became a member of the club and how his involvement has transformed his commute and inspired him in other ways.
“Through my involvement in the SUBASE cycling club this summer, I started riding back and forth from work to home to save money on gas,” said Buckles. “During these 45-minute commutes both ways, my fundraising idea to help the ‘Semper Fi Fund’ took form.”
Earlier this summer, Buckles starting seeking pledges from friends and family interested in supporting his charity of interest, the Semper Fi Fund, which supports wounded warriors and their families. Buckles will continue to collect pledges through November in hopes of raising $5,000 for this charity.
Danielson said two other reasons for his involvement were to help out the American Hearth Association because heart disease affects a lot of people and to bring awareness of the benefits of cycling.
“A friend of our family lost his wife to heart disease,” said Danielson. “We thought it would be a good charity event to be involved in, but also to show how cycling leads to a healthy lifestyle and combats heart disease.”