The Columbus Dispatch: First-Year Peloton on a Roll
When Dispatch Reporter Steve Wartenberg decided to captain a peloton at the newspaper, he was well equipped with the knowledge he needed to get it started. Not only is Wartenberg an avid rider who has tackled well-known biking challenges like Mount Ventoux, but he also authored an e-book, Biking in Provence, about some of his two-wheel experiences. And, many of you know Wartenberg from the months he spent penning this blog. During that time, he talked with the captains of several pelotons, both big and small. “It was like a primer on how to build a team,” he said about the blogging experience. “I put that knowledge to use and started a team here at the Dispatch.”
The most important thing Wartenberg learned about starting a peloton is that it all starts at the top. In this case, the support he garnered from Dispatch leadership made a tremendous difference in getting the peloton off the ground. In fact, the company agreed to refund the $100 registration fee and support part of each associate’s ride. Even better, every Dispatch rider can invite a friend or relative to join the peloton and that person is entitled to the same benefits. As a result, Wartenberg’s wife, Susan Cunningham, will ride for the first time this year.
To date, more than 50 people have signed up to ride, prompting Wartenberg to increase his original goal of 50 riders to 60. Several spouses are on board, and somewhere between 15 and 18 riders are relatives or friends. A small number of riders on the peloton are experienced riders like Wartenberg, but they’ve also recruited people who are new to the road and had to borrow or purchase a bike. “I’ve gotten to meet people from other areas of the company,” said Wartenberg, who explained that they don’t all work in the same location. “Being on a team is very social, and we have had a series of group training rides.”
Wartenberg continues to be amazed at the many individuals whose lives are part of Pelotonia, and he likes to reflect on his initial involvement. Before the first ride, he was working at the Dispatch and writing a bike blog. That’s when he interviewed Pelotonia founder Tom Lennox. “Tom told me that Pelotonia was not going to be a bike ride, but a community of riders coming together. In spite of what he said, I thought it would simply be another bike ride,” Wartenberg explained. “But that first Pelotonia really was amazing, with people cheering us on with signs, and clapping and thanking us. By the end of the ride, I understood and bought in to what Tom said.”
Today, Wartenberg is quick to encourage other companies and individuals to get involved.
“It’s great to be part of a peloton, but even if you’re not—which I wasn’t the last three years—you should still ride in Pelotonia,” he said. “It’s an amazing experience. And then, next year, think about starting your own peloton.”
For more information about Wartenberg’s e-book, which includes everything you need to know about biking in the French province, from the café culture to how to do laundry in a foreign country, visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/wartenberg1111. The Kindle link is http://www.amazon.com/Biking-Provence-Cycling-version-ebook/dp/B007SQEZVE, and it’s also available on Nook and iBookstore. Both travel book and handbook rolled into one, Biking in Provence is the first in The Steve Says Cycling Series.
Written by: Lori Murray