The PEZ did a great interview with NBA great Reggie Miller (NBA Hall of Fame class of 2012 and ranks second on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made list) about this ride. Even though it’s still a little early for me to start Zwifting on a regular basis and the weather was OK enough to do an outdoor ride last Saturday (at least it was in the afternoon), I decided to join Reggie Miller and friends instead.
Because I felt it was important to support what Reggie Miller was doing. Not his attempt to make it the largest Zwift group ride ever. Rather the cause he was advocating for:
- Since I retired from the NBA as a player, I’ve discovered cycling. And not just discovered, but really taken to it. I now ride as much as I can, train and race regularly, and have found a really great community within the sport. But cycling has a big opportunity to increase its diversity, and I believe that we as a community need to do everything we can to encourage others to join, to welcome and have conversations with those who may not have previously considered cycling as an activity, an outlet, or a lifelong sport. I simply want to make this sport I now love more welcoming and inclusive to others, and I believe this effort is a step in the right direction.
- The ride was representative of a community that wants – and is welcoming – more inclusion. We’ve all heard different folks from within the cycling industry say ‘we need more diversity’, and they’re absolutely right, but we need to enact this change. This ride represents the opportunity for us to come together and say ‘yes, we do want more diversity in cycling’ and offers us the opportunity to join an event, a movement, and to do something about it.
- The creation of cycling programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a perfect cause and recipient of the funds we raise. What better way to increase diversity in our sport than welcoming a new generation of cyclists into our sport? [Making a donation wasn’t a requirement to do the ride, but I did.]
And as the PEZ said:
A truth is that road cycling as we know it — (that’s you and me dear PEZ fans) is just not a very diverse sport — racially or otherwise. It’s no lie that we’re living in turbulent times that sometimes look like the growing apart is pulling stronger than the pulling together movement. But I for one believe that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, so bringing more people – regardless of race, culture, color, sexual orientation, and whatever else will make cycling a whole lot better place to be. It can even make your local ride, and possibly even the world, a better place too.
So as a person of color (Filipino ethnic heritage) who has been actively involved with the sport since the late 80s (racing, founder of a team/club, mentoring a lot of riders, vice-president of my cycling district board, race official — but now just someone who rides with friends for fun and coffee … and tacos), I felt like I needed to do my small part.
This had been tucked away since last winter
One thing I had to do before the ride was get my Wahoo KICKR set up in the basement. Since that involved having to pull a cassette off one of my wheels to put on the KICKR, I used the opportunity to both clean the cassette and lube my chain. And even though it’s a little early for me, I’m now set up for indoor riding on my Felt FC.
Ready to ride!
Although the weather forecast called for reasonable temps in the afternoon, the morning was off to a cold start. Like winter cold. So even though I don’t ordinarily ride indoors at this time of the year, I was happy to Zwift rather than wear winter kit.
Pre-ride b’fast of champions
Reggie Miller had an ambitious goal of getting 20,000 riders to do the ride and making it the largest Zwift group ride ever. He wasn’t able to do either, but it doesn’t really matter because he had a great turnout for a great cause.
Just before the ride start, there were over 4,000 riders signed up, but not that many rode
Warming up in a sea of purple rain with more than 2,500 of my closest friends that I’ve never met (it turns out that at least one person I know did the ride)
And we’re off!
This was advertised as a ride not a race and everyone behaved themselves. Reggie Miller said he was going to ride 2.5 w/kg and that’s actually what my average was for the whole ride (including my post-ride warm-down).
But there’s always a “herd mentality” when you get a bunch of riders (in this case, 2,500+) together to ride. So the ride was fairly strung out and I found myself in what you could nominally call the “front group.” And I couldn’t resist putting in more of an effort going up Libby Hill, 23rd Street, and Governor (they are harder in real life than on Zwift IMHO). In fact, towards the end of the first lap as we went up Governor, I actually rode past Reggie Miller at the front! [Fun fact: I was actually Strava KOM for a day on the real climb up Governor when I rode the course before the 2015 Worlds.]
I managed a PR up Libby Hill
Throughout the ride, Reggie Hill was pretty loquacious via Zwift chat. Lots of shout outs to his peeps. Don’t ask me to name them, but a number of former NBA players did the ride. I’m pretty sure the Barry Bonds who did the ride was that Barry Bonds (still the MLB career and single-season home run record holder). Justin and Cory Williams (as well as handful of other pros, both men and women) also did the ride. So a “celebrity” ride of sorts.
And a PR up the cobbles of 23rd Street … but nothing like how Sagan went up in 2015
But the most important thing was creating an event intended to be inclusive, encouraging, and to help create more diversity in cycling. Judging by all the chat during the ride, I think it’s fair to say that Reggie Miller succeeded in doing that. One woman we lapped said her legs were burning but that she was going to keep pushing and giving it her all to finish the ride. She got a ton of shout outs on the chat and I’m sure more than just a few Zwift kudos dropped into her jersey pockets. Chapeau!
And the ride was about raising money for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help them develop cycling teams. [During the ride, Reggie Miller asked if anyone knew how many HBCUs had cycling teams? The answer is just two. And those two are St. Augustine’s and Johnson C. Smith, both in North Carolina.] At one point during the ride, Reggie Miller said that more then $3,000 had been raised since the ride started. Not bad for less than 90 minutes. But then a little later he announced that Turner Sports had just donated $10,000! He was clearly blown away by this and said he would match it.
FTW! I went just hard enough on the long drag up Broad Street to the finish to get a Xert breakthrough.
All in all, it was a fun ride. Not too hard, but just enough burn. One reward for doing all three laps is that I unlocked the cool purple Castelli Ride with Reggie jersey and have now made that my jersey on Zwift (I also unlocked a pair of Fizik shoes that my avatar is wearing). But the bigger reward was just knowing I had done something (however small) for a good cause.
If you want the real deal for yourself and not just your Zwift avatar, proceeds from the sale of these jerseys by Castelli will support the cause – you can buy one here
For PEZ-Fans interested in my Zwift set up … I’m using a Wahoo KICKR Axis. I have the Zwift app on my Apple TV connected to an older video projector that’s DVD-quality (so 480p) that projects onto an 85-inch screen. For audio, I listen to music (CDs or Alexa) on my Harmon Kardon receiver with Boston Acoustics speakers. For #ridewithreggie, my musical choice was: