A scheduling conflict in 2010 kept Justin Deierling from riding in the Pelotonia bike ride — a grassroots effort to raise money to fight cancer.
Bent on participating this year, the 28-year-old once again hit a setback, this time in the form of a broken leg.
So perhaps no one knows the phrase “better luck next year” better than Deierling. The cyclist said “there’s no question” that he’ll follow through with the ride in 2012.
“There’s nothing I love to do more than ride my bike, and I’ve always wanted to do the Pelotonia,” he said. “I was definitely working toward it, and I definitely will next year, too.”
The Pelotonia, now in its third year, involves cyclists riding from Columbus to Athens and back, or their choice of several shorter legs. The event (Aug. 19-21) consists of about 3,700 riders, 1,400 virtual riders (those who solely raise money) and 1,300 volunteers. Deierling made the switch to a virtual rider, raising $1,480 as of Monday.
Every dollar raised goes to the James Cancer Hospital, Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, in the hopes of one day finding a cure for cancer.
Deierling said a at in North Canton brought in more than half of his total amount raised, with all tips and 10 percent of sales going toward the Pelotonia. Geoff Karcher of the Karcher Group did the bartending that night.
Deierling, who had signed up for the total ride of 180 miles, will still head down to central Ohio to support other riders. And, although he’ll be on crutches for the next two months, he’s holding on to the hope that he still could ride, even if only a few miles.
“If I can ride even 20 miles of it, I might do that,” he said.
Deierling’s story isn’t unfamiliar with Pelotonia organizers. When North Canton Patch contacted Jessica Kinman, director of publicity and communications for Pelotonia, and explained Deierling’s circumstances to her, Kinman said “Are you talking about Justin Deierling? He’s a great guy.”
She said it’s not unusual to see folks from Northeast Ohio — or other parts of Ohio — take part in the Pelotonia. Riders from 34 states participate.
She said the money raised stays in Columbus, “but the research they do there carries on worldwide.”
Kinman said it’s usually people’s connection to cancer that gets them involved. That was the case for Deierling, along with Lance Armstrong's influence.
“We know a few people that have had cancer. My mom has had it, and my grandparents. We just had a friend die from a brain tumor he just found out about,” Deierling said.
“I love to ride my bike, and I love to ride it for a purpose. And I just fell in love with not just the Pelotonia, but all the benefit rides, because you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Editor's note: North Canton Patch Editor Morgan Day will volunteer at this year's Pelotonia. Find her public profile here.