The Longest Ride – The Iron Ride 24 Hr Stationary Bike Race
I can say that at least for myself, at 3:00 am I’d most likely be asleep. This, however, was not the case for those who participated in the Iron Ride 24 Hr Stationary Bike Race at Pan Am Boxing Club on November 2ndand 3rd. During this event, participants rode from 9:00 am – 9:00 am in order to raise money for a new initiative, Pan Am Place 2, a shelter focused on helping women and children.
Pan Am Place is a shelter for men age 18-29 focusing on promoting self-efficacy and skill development in order for young men to make an effective change in their lives. They operate using a merit-based model where young men, after undergoing a rigorous application process, receive shelter, food, and educational training in exchange for participation in volunteering, various educational/occupational programs, and an exercise regime. In this way, they hope to foster self-discipline and responsibility while promoting both healthy living and self-esteem. Pan Am Place 2 is now being initiated to extend those services to at-risk women and children.
To find out more about the Bike Race, I sat down with third year medical student, Kanwar Bhangu, to discuss his experience participating in this event. Keep reading for the full interview.
How did you hear about the Iron Ride and what inspired you to participate?
Kanwar initially heard about the Race from his friend, Aaron Black, whose father, Harry Black (manager of the affiliated Pan Am Boxing), both founded Pan Am Place and initiated the Iron Ride. The Iron Ride was started a few years ago to raise money for Pan Am Place 2.
A month before the Race, Aaron, who is the manager of Pan Am Place, invited Kanwar along with some of their mutual friends to participate in the Iron Ride. That’s when their team of eight was formed.
Kanwar explained, “…At first we got into it because [we thought] ‘wow what a cool event, let’s go and try hard and bike hard and all that,’ but then it became like ‘okay this is actually for fundraising, this is the main mission’ so I think last second we all started ramping up our efforts to actually fundraise for this place. And it was a super fulfilling time, a lot of people donated, and it was a really fun effort to try to [raise] money.”
What did you do to prepare for the Bike Race?
“I exercised a lot ahead of time. I’m always kind of consistently exercising, but for this particular event I switched up the way I exercise. I used to run and lift weights and stuff, so then I started biking a lot more, so like going on longer bike rides and just going a couple times a week… I also bike in the summers to school and stuff so I have [a bit of a] baseline.”
How did you feel before starting the Race?
Kanwar’s main concern prior to starting the race wasn’t the length of the ride, but rather whether he would be able to maintain his stamina overnight. “I wasn’t nervous or anything because I knew we didn’t have to do it 24 hours straight or anything, but I was nervous about doing it overnight, because, I don’t know, biking and sprinting at 3:00 am is really hard to do.”
How did your team decide to conquer the Iron Ride?
For the Race, each team was allotted one stationary bike spot. For Kanwar and his team, they decided to trade off on a schedule and take on an equal part of the Race. “We would go really hard while we were on, so we would sprint 20 minutes, and then we would have a 2 hour break, which is long, but then go back to it. So in the end we ended up doing about 4 hours of biking still. So it was still hard on our bodies and stuff but it wasn’t as hard as if we were doing the full 24 hours.”
When asked about how it was biking overnight, Kanwar and I had a few good laughs as he reminisced about his experience. “…While I was actually doing it, it felt kind of like doing a call shift. So at night we napped a little bit and we obviously got really bad sleep for an hour and then someone wakes you up [and] is like ‘okay you have to go bike again’, and it just felt like you’re on call and getting a page or something… Seriously, it felt like it was a good preparation for a call shift…”
What was the hardest part about completing the Race and how did you overcome it?
Kanwar explained that the long hours, the lack of sleep, and the late night was the part he found most difficult, but expressed that he felt he had a responsibility to his team. He stated, “The hardest part was definitely staying awake or getting up and going on the bike, and I guess overcoming [that], I don’t know, you just have to do it. Cause you don’t want to let anyone down because everyone else is doing the same thing.”
He also felt that he found encouragement from some of the other bikers, particularly his friend, Aaron, and his family. “…Actually, another source of inspiration was Harry Black, the guy who runs the studio. [He], his wife and his son, they all had their own bikes so they were doing 24 hours continuously, so that was pretty inspiring. So whenever we felt tired we would look at them and [were] like ‘we have no reason to be tired’.”
What were your goals for the Race?
In terms of team goals, Kanwar explained that each team had a fundraising goal of $5000 in order to support Pan Am Place 2, and with the support of numerous donors, his team succeeded in their fundraising efforts! In the process, the team also found new and innovative ways to raise money. Kanwar posted a photo or memory of each of his donors on his Instagram account in order to raise awareness, while one of his friends drew photos of their donors to post, encouraging more people to contribute to their cause. With these strategies and the generosity of many people, they were able to raise a lot of funds in a short amount of time. There was also a competition portion of the Race based on the number of kilometers travelled, for which Kanwar’s team came in 4thplace.
Kanwar also shared that he had some personal goals in mind throughout this experience. “A personal goal of mine was definitely to fundraise as much money as I could and the week before I spent a lot of time and energy trying to fundraise… In terms of the physical aspect, I wanted to be able to keep up my pace, so not sitting down on the bike, just sprinting every session, and I did achieve that as well. I didn’t slow down. Even in the night I was doing well still, I was surprised. It was shocking.”
What was the most memorable moment during this experience?
“So there was a boxing match, like a pretty big boxing match that night and they brought out a TV and everyone was watching and interested. That was pretty cool, so at 11:00 at night everyone’s biking hard and watching this boxing match.” He went on to express that this fostered a sense of camaraderie between everyone participating in the Bike Race. He states that even though they were competing for the most kilometers it brought about a sense of unity, realizing that they were all in this together with one common goal which was to work towards raising funds for Pan Am Place 2.
What have you taken away from this experience?
When asked this question, Kanwar spoke mainly about his personal realization of his own capabilities. “Personally, I feel like I can do hard things and like I can push myself more than I think I can. There’s definitely some challenges in this [race] but I know I can probably deal with more. Next year my goal is to do it again and fundraise a lot and then also carry more of it myself, like [having] a smaller team so that I can bike more. I think that would be a fun challenge.”
How can people become involved with Pan Am Place?
“I know a lot of our classmates go to Pan Am Boxing, several of our classmates know about it… so I feel like our classmates could also get involved more. Anyone could have made a team; definitely our classmates could get together and make a team… Our classmates go on ultra-marathons, they do the craziest things, and this won’t be a far-fetched thing at all.”
With regards to Pan Am Place, Kanwar suggested that for future incoming medical students “in the future Pan Am Place should be a place where people [can] volunteer like in first and second year for Service Learning.”
Lastly, having had such an amazing experience, Kanwar encourages med students to participate with fellow classmates in the Race next year: “I would recommend students to do this in the future. I think it’s a cool thing for classmates to do together!”
Congratulations to Kanwar and his team mates on conquering a long night of riding! For more information on Pan Am Place and how you can get involved, as well as for information on the Iron Ride Bike Race, visit https://panamplace.com.