The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) will be hosting the 18th annual Tri-State Trek from June 19-21, 2020 to raise money to fund research for treatments and a cure for ALS. In 2019 the Trek raised over $825,000, bringing the total raised to date to over $9 million since the Trek began in 2003.
The Tri-State Trek is a three-day, 270-mile bike ride that begins at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA and then winds its way through Connecticut into New York before coming back across the state line and finishing in Greenwich, CT.
The Trek attracts riders from all across the United States, due to the breathtaking views throughout the ride, as well as the passion and drive to raise funds for ALS research with ALS TDI. The first Trek began with just 16 riders in 2003 but has since grown to include over 450 riders, crew members, and volunteers each year.
From the Mid-West to the Middle of New England
Brian Lenhof has participated in the last four Tri-State Treks as a rider on Team Gladiators for Gladys and Miles for Monte. “Maybe it is because I’ve gotten to know more people,” he said, “but it seems like it has gotten more closely knit between the riders, participants, ALS TDI team and everyone involved.”
Brian began riding the Trek the year after his mother, Gladys, was diagnosed with ALS. Gladys passed due to ALS in 2017 and now Brian rides each year in her honor. The ride is a great way for him to remember his mother and stay connected to the ALS community.
“There’s a heavily wooded downhill area before lunch on day two, where the riders get a lot of separation in between each other,” said Brian. “I look forward to this section because it really gives me the time to reflect on what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and it reminds me why I look forward to this weekend every year.”
Brian has traveled from all over to make it to the Trek: first Rhode Island, then Missouri and now Phoenix. Despite the distance he has to travel to get here he would never miss it. “Getting there isn’t always the easiest especially now that my four kids come with me but it is always worth it once we are there,” he said. Many riders like Brian return year after year to the Trek, but there are new riders each year as well.
A First Time Rider from Florida
Maddie Dhondt has volunteered and interned at the last two Tri-State Treks, but this year she will be participating as a rider for the first time.
“I have zero experience doing any kind of long bike rides and have done zero training so far,” said Maddie. “But I plan on doing a lot of spin classes over the next couple months and I also watched all of the Trek Tuesday videos last year which are super helpful.” The Trek Tuesday videos star ALS TDI scientist Val Tassinari, an experienced Trek rider. She provides helpful training tips and tricks to make sure every rider can make it across the finish line. All of the Trek Tuesday videos can be found on the Tri-State Trek Instagram (www.instagram.com/alstditrek/).
On top of the Trek Tuesday videos, the Trek provides a 12-week training guide that can be used in preparation for the event. The training guide can be found here. Maddie has traveled all the way from Florida for the past two Tri-State Treks and will be doing the same thing when it happens again in June.
“Coming all the way from Florida to go to the Trek is almost like a treat for me,” she said. “I love Boston and both years I came up a few days early so it’s like a mini vacation for me.”
For bikers coming from out of state, there is the option to ship your bike to Urban Adventours ahead of the race so you do not have to travel with it. They will assemble and deliver your bike to the starting line if you choose this option. You can also rent a bike from Urban Adventours if you choose not to ship your own bike.
A Call for Crew
Even if you are not a bike-riding enthusiast, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved. Volunteers and Spirit Squad members are vital to help the race run smoothly and keep the riders in high spirits.
“Volunteer crew are integral to the success of the Tri-State Trek,” said Ben Engle, the Director of Event and Program Production at ALS TDI. “We rely on over 100 people to give up their weekends and work tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to make sure our riders are safe, supported, and have a great experience. Whether they’re making 500 peanut butter and fluff sandwiches at a Rest Stop or fixing a flat from a Route Support vehicle in the middle of our course, our crew works hard to make the Trek an amazing weekend for all.”
Glynis Murray was a first-time volunteer as a member of the Spirit Squad at the 2019 Trek. She was easily recognizable as the woman in the dinosaur costume cheering on all the riders.
“Making them smile was my goal,” she said. “I know if I was riding I would be miserable but if I saw that dinosaur on the side of the road I’d be laughing for miles and not thinking about the pain.”
Glynis made the trip all the way from California to be a part of the Trek in honor of her husband Vince who passed away from ALS in 2016. She carries around a photo of him everywhere she goes, including when she is wearing the dinosaur costume. “It is a long trip, but I love to travel and I never hesitate to travel for ALS events, especially ones this great,” she said.
You Can Do It
A three-day, 270-mile bike ride might sound daunting but no rider is on their own. “You don’t need to be scared of the miles,” said Brian. “There are so many different opportunities to be involved, and there is so much help provided by the ALS TDI team and the volunteers that there really is no barrier you can’t overcome to be a part of it.”
“There’s more than one way to get involved,” said Maddie. “Yes you can be a rider but I also loved my time volunteering and interning and would gladly do either again, unless I get hooked on riding,” said Maddie.
If you cannot commit to riding the whole weekend, there is also the option to ride one or two of the days, or to be a day volunteer. Room and board are provided for both Friday and Saturday night for all two or three-day riders, as well as Crew members. For one day riders or one day volunteers, room and board are not provided but can be paid for during registration. There really is a way for everyone to participate and experience the Trek for themselves.
“Do yourself the favor and just do it,” said Glynis. “It is the most amazing, fun, inspiring, family atmosphere that you will ever experience.”
“It’s a melting pot of people,” said Brian. “People come from all different types of backgrounds, and not everyone has a personal connection with ALS, but they’re all there bound by the common goal of ending ALS.”
To learn more about the Tri-State Trek and to register for 2020’s event please visit https://tst.als.net/