Meet Eric Winke: Riding in Bike to Beat Cancer for fun and to support patients

Repeat rider Eric Winke took the time to answer a few questions about why he rides in Bike to Beat Cancer, supporting Norton Cancer Institute.

Eric Winke, 44, is an e-learning developer with the Norton Healthcare Institute for Education & Development. Eric, who is married with a young son and daughter, took the time to answer a few questions about why he rides in Bike to Beat Cancer.

How many years have you participated in Bike to Beat Cancer?

2022 will mark my sixth year riding in Bike to Beat Cancer. I hope to participate each year from now until I can no longer keep myself upright on a bike … at which point I will just transition to an electric recumbent bike and keep rolling along!

What first made you interested in participating?

I love people. I love cycling, and raising funds to support the worthy cause of curing cancer to eliminate suffering was the perfect motivational trifecta for me to join Bike to Beat Cancer. I also had two colleagues who were the catalyst for me to ride my first Bike to Beat Cancer in 2016, well, and the opportunity to wear all spandex!

Is there someone or people in particular you ride for?

I ride for anyone impacted by cancer in some way or another either directly, or through someone close to them — which is, unfortunately, far too many people. More personally, my mom, dad, sister-in-law, grandparents, aunts, friends and so many others all have experienced cancer firsthand. I ride for all of them, including those individuals who are no longer with us. In addition, I ride for all of the amazing medical staff who support cancer patients and their families. Better together — always!

I dedicated my latest ride to my sister-in-law. She is a cancer warrior, survivor, a loving mother to two young sons and loving wife to her husband. (We love you! You are amazing!)

What is your favorite part of the ride?

Wearing spandex, of course! All joking aside, I love Bike to Beat Cancer’s overall focus to bring people together to share their stories and ride for a great cause! As we always say, “There are no strangers on Bike to Beat Cancer day!” I have met so many great people participating for a variety of different reasons each year.

Is there a moment in particular from one of your rides that stands out to you?

Ha-ha — there was one year in particular where a colleague and I dressed up and rode as Spiderman and Captain America. Well, Captain America experienced a flat tire about a mile into the ride. Captain America also forgot his bike repair bag that day, so Spiderman luckily had the tools, tube and air to help him out and quickly get him rolling again. It was quite the spectacle to see Spiderman changing Captain America’s tire on the side of the road while others cycled and drove by.

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Also, a few years ago the same colleague and I cycled with our sons in tow in bike trailers, and we stopped at an aid station located at a fire station. A firefighter was there and graciously allowed our sons to climb into the fire truck — which they loved, since they were probably quite tired of riding in the bike trailer.

When you are trying to push through those last few miles, and you are struggling, what keeps you pedaling?

Coffee in my bottle … coupled with the motivating thought of the great food and snacks at the finish line! Again, all joking aside, I think about individuals who have, are, and may be battling cancer at some point. Any insignificant “struggles” I experience in the saddle pale in comparison to anything they experience. That is a humbling, yet motivating reflection to keep me going each and every year at Bike to Beat Cancer and each and every day in general.

Is there any advice you would give to a new rider or someone thinking about participating in Bike to Beat Cancer?

Absolutely — just do it and come join us! Bike to Beat Cancer offers a variety of different routes and mileage options — even spin and virtual options — to meet everyone’s preferences and experience levels. Also, Bike to Beat Cancer has great training ride options before the big day to prepare riders for the experience. Everyone is out there unified together to help one another and create a great experience each and every year!

When it comes to fundraising, do you have any advice?

I find that telling an emotional story that resonates with people is a way to really connect with others and boost awareness of cancer research, support, and Bike to Beat Cancer in general. Outside of that, definitely use a blended mix of different communication platforms/mediums to gain visibility and reach as many people as you can: texting, social media, Bike to Beat Cancer website. Fundraising reminders never hurt as well to help others remember to donate.

What impact do you hope that you make through Bike to Beat Cancer?

I strive to continue increasing visibility and participation each year to help others get out to ride/exercise, meet and support one another and raise funds to continue funding the battle against cancer. As with anything in life, it takes a village, and better together, for sure!

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