May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

At a rest-stop with my friend Shlomo Rosenzweig, the man who convinced me to join Bike4Chai back in 2016. (Credit: David Roher).

Bike4Chai is an event held to raise money which Chai Lifeline uses to help seriously ill children go to sleep away camp, cost-free, to the families. That camp is called Camp Simcha. Camp Simcha is a magical place. It is where children with serious illnesses like cancer can experience a kosher overnight summer camp experience, with full medical support. The camp has its own hospital. Children can receive their routine medical treatments, which are scheduled around summer camp activities. The children get the same summer experiences that healthy children have at a regular sleep away camp. Much of this is made possible by the fundraising of the now over 675 riders from across the United States and around the world. Riders come from Mexico, Canada, Israel and around the world.

Bike4Chai started in 2009 when Chai Lifeline volunteer Dovid Egert was told that he could not take his bike on the bus for the 135-mile drive from Lakewood, New Jersey to Camp Simcha in Glen Spey, New York. Dovid decided to ride to camp and in the process helped to raise $10,000 for the campers. I have been riding with Bike4Chai since 2016 and I have been the Bike4Chai coach since 2021. As the Bike4Chai coach, I make informational videos and answer WhatsApp messages from riders. I’ve written individual training plans and I join group rides for teams in the NY/NJ area like “Team Monsey,” “Team Lakewood,” “Team New Rochelle” and “Team “T-Berg Rider.” I make sure during the ride that my fellow riders had everything they needed to complete the ride.

With Dovid Egar, the man who started this all and continues to ride to Camp Simcha.
(Credit: David Roher)

Bike4Chai has its sign up and kick off in January, with the ride in August. There are two consecutive days of riding. New riders often remark, “How will I ride 100-miles on day one and ride another 60 the very next day?” Twenty miles at a time. On each day of riding there are rest stops approximately every 20 miles where the riders could refuel. There’s ice water, Gatorade and a whole selection of electrolyte solutions. There are energy bars, Gels and pickles. My favorite is to scoop a cup of pickle juice, add a few olives and call it a “Pickel-tini.” Pickles and pickle brine are just what a cyclist needs when riding all day in the hot sun.

The two-day course is challenging and there is support if you need roadside assistance. But Bike4Chai is a charity ride, it’s not a race.

This year, day one consisted of a 100-mile ride that began and ended at the Kalahari Resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Day two was a 60-mile ride from the resort up to the camp where the campers and staff greeted the riders with what we call “The World’s Greatest Finish Line.”

I have asked many of the riders their impressions of the experience of riding over 160 miles in two days.

For some it is the culmination of months of training. For others it is the challenge of riding hundreds of miles through the mountains, but for every rider it is about the kids we fundraise for.

For me it is about helping the kids at the camp and it’s about helping those riders who have questions about their training, their nutrition or about their bike. It’s also personal for me. My father lost his brother when they were kids. My grandmother never spoke about what it was like to lose a child, but Bike4Chai makes sure that when a Jewish child is sick, the child is not alone and the parents are not alone. Everything from meals to transportation, to Camp Simcha is taken care of. Riding with Bike4Chai is like being a camper at Camp Simcha; no matter what the challenges, you are never alone.

At a rest-stop to refill my bottles. (Credit: David Roher)

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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