April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Why I’m Riding for JFS Bergen

Cycling is my passion. In 2007, much to my mother’s dismay (I had eight younger siblings at the time), my father spent the entirety of our winnings at a Chinese auction on my first road bike. The gift card was to “The Bicycle II” on Route 17 (I think) and was just enough to cover a Bianchi Via Narone with 24 speeds (8×3) and a pair of women’s spinning shoes.

I rode the bike around during the summer of 07, mostly feeling bad that my siblings were on old junkers while I had this fancy, big-wheeled road bike. After the summer, wrestling practices returned to my life and I lost interest in the ways of the bike.

After graduating MTA for high school and studying abroad in Israel for a year, I attended Yeshiva University where I wrestled and ran for the cross-country team. Triathlons seemed like a natural transition, which steered me to orchestrate a trade: my brand-newish Bianchi Via Nirone in state-of-the-art aluminum with Shimano Total Integration technology for a very fast-looking Abici Time Machine. I rode that bike in a few triathlons that first year of 2009. What piqued my interest was the NYC Triathlon and competing with Team One Family—which raised much-needed funds for Israeli terror victims and their families. I competed in the race with TOF from 2009 to 2011, while dabbling in a whole slew of other races, which, to my delight and surprise, I found myself to be not entirely bad at.

Until I brought my bike into The Cosmic Wheel in Ridgefield Park one day to be looked over, and the mechanic (my future training partner), Michael Zak, asked me why I didn’t come out to try racing bikes. “Like the Tour De France?” Exactly, he told me. That March, on the first Sunday of the month, I was up at 4 a.m. to get out to Central Park before dawn. The race started at 6 and I was told to be there about an hour early. Since then, I’ve raced two to six times a month every month from March through September. First by myself, then with Team Cosmic and finally for a team we created: GS Talent Cycles (a bike shop in Harlem), formerly known as Chimps in Training. We race all over, including NYC, Brooklyn, NJ, PA, CT and further.

To be competitive on the bike, a high level of fitness is a must. To cultivate a fit engine, competitive cyclists can spend anywhere between 5 and 15 hours per week riding their bike. At the top level, this can be stretched to 30+ hours. I’m no different and, fortunately, enjoy my time spent turning the pedals. It’s not unheard of to ride one to two hours a day Monday through Friday and then go out for a long four-to-five-hour ride on the weekend. Especially if the weather is warmer and friends come out to join in.

So, when a friend called and asked that I consider joining the Wheels-for-Meals committee, working on the Ride to Fight Hunger for JFS of Bergen and North Hudson, I jumped at the opportunity. Beginning and ending at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, the Wheels-for-Meals ride has lots of options, from a three-mile ride for inexperienced riders, to 10-, 25- and 50-mile rides. The longer rides follow the scenery along the Palisades, down to the Hudson River, and back up through beautiful Bergen County.

What’s truly sold me on the race, however, is the cause. I’ve learned a great deal about JFS since joining this committee, and I’m blown away by the work they do. Volunteers, through their Teaneck location, deliver over 40,000 kosher meals-on-wheels to homebound seniors throughout the community. And truthfully, I didn’t even realize that they ran a food pantry, nor did I imagine the number of people that they helped on an annual basis. Over 800 people depended on JFS to feed their family last year, an increase of over 60 percent from the year before. The need keeps growing. Last week alone, seven new families called JFS in need of Food Pantry services. That represents another 25 mouths to feed.

June 19 is going to be a special day. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and B’H it will be my first Father’s Day. How fitting to be able to do something so profound, to literally put food on the tables of families in need. It’s a great sense of satisfaction—truly making a difference in people’s lives.

Come celebrate Father’s Day with me. Register at www.ridetofighthunger.com and come along for the ride!

By Eli Fuld

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