USI alumnus races in 100 mile bike ride for autism research
Emma Corry, Features Editor|September 10, 2019
Photo courtesy of Medicine in Motion
Evan Stieler had never attended a bike race when he took part in the 2019 New England Ride for Autism and Disabilities.
The event took riders down a 100 mile route from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Rhode Island. Although the former USI student was tired by the end, he knew it was for a good cause.
Stieler graduated from USI in 2017 with a degree in biology. He currently studies at the Harvard School of Medicine which is where he came in contact with Medicine in Motion, an organization of medical professionals who focus on bridging fitness and philanthropy to the medical profession.
Stieler said the organization tries to participate in a long bike ride every year. This year they chose to attend a race by Bike to the Beach, an organization that holds bike races in major U.S. coastal cities to raise money for autism research and awareness.
“It was kind of a perfect fit and we all really enjoyed it,” Stieler said. “It was a beautiful bike ride. A lot of it hugged the Atlantic coast so you’re riding by the beach for a lot of it so you can always look to your left and see the ocean.”
Stieler didn’t get many chances to ride a bike when he lived in Evansville. To prepare for the race, he would practice on Saturdays, going from 30 miles one weekend to 35 the next so he could build up to the 100 miles.
“It shows you, if you have a mission or something you train for, we are all much more capable of those kinds of things than we even realize,” Stieler said.
The race began at 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 31. The Mediation in Motion team consisted of around 10 people who were mainly medical students that Stieler shared a class with. The ride lasted seven hours long.
“We really lucked out,” Stieler said. “It was a beautiful day. It was just over 80 degrees with a nice breeze and we didn’t have to fight any weather.”
Stieler biked through different cities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and scenic paths through forested areas.
“It was kind of nice that we had changing scenery because when you’re in a city you’re moving your legs for so long and it’s nice to have something to keep you occupied,” He said.
Stieler was more focused on finishing the race than speed, but during the last 10 miles, he did try to move faster, despite the fact his leg went numb around mile 90. He kept on expecting the end of the race to be on the next turn for the last few miles.
“I definitely felt very relieved to finally cross,” Stieler said. “I just felt so grateful that my friends had presented the idea to me and that I was willing to think about it and do it. It really was such a great experience just to fundraise the money and know it was going to an awesome cause.”
Medicine in Motion raised around $15,000 of the over $2 million total funds raised for the event. The Bike to the Beach website contains individual links to donate to specific racers. Stieler individually raised around $600, and he had never done a fundraiser before. He said the money goes to different organizations in the Northeastern U.S. tasked with different forms of autism and disability research and care.
“I thought it was for such an amazing cause,” Stieler said. “You draw so much motivation from other people who are like-minded and wanting to help out.”
Benjamin Dalley, the director of operations for Bike to the Beach, said people who can’t participate in the races can support the organization by sharing their website and telling their story.
“What Bike to the Beach is all about is trying to celebrate the disability community,” Dalley said. “There are so many people that are overcoming challenges every day in their disability or people who are hopping on their bikes for the first time to bike…people who are making a commitment to raise money to help the community. Bike to the Beach is all about inspiring people to be successful.”
Stieler said, as someone who never biked before, his experience shows that you can train for anything with the proper amount of dedication and preparation.
“Having in mind something that you’re training for really gives you something,” Stieler said. “I highly recommend it. I wish I would have done more in college.”
Stieler plans to attend a triathlon with Medicine in Motion this week. He said that after the 100 mile bike ride, the run will be no problem.