The Rider

May 24, 2010

Team Tang Takes to the Road

Filed under: Our Volunteers, Rider Profiles — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

LeAnna Harris and her father, Dave Grubb, weren’t quite able to ride in the inaugural Pelotonia.

LeAnna and Dave were volunteers at Pelotonia last year

LeAnna was having back problems that eventually required surgery and Dave, well, let’s just say he was still feeling the effects of years of smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Instead of riding – they volunteered, which turned out to be such a rewarding experience the two dedicated themselves to training for and riding in this year’s Pelotonia. And not only will they ride, Dave and LeAnna will go the distance: 180 miles to Athens and then back to Columbus.

“The biggest thrill last year was being a cheerleader for all the riders,” said Dave, who volunteered at one of the rest stops with LeAnna. “From the looks on their faces, you could tell they were surprised to see people cheering them on so far from Columbus.”

Maybe you were one of these riders.

“It was amazing to see Lance Armstrong fly by,” LeAnna added. “But then an hour or two later all these riders came by who were struggling, but obviously enjoying themselves. And so many of them are survivors or had the name of their spouse (who was battling cancer or had died from cancer) on their shirts. I can’t talk about it, even now, without getting goose bumps. My heart has never been fuller.”

This year they will ride 180 miles

This year’s ride will be the first century (a 100-mile ride) for LeAnna and Dave, but they are determined to be ready and train together regularly.

Cycling has changed Dave’s life – and waistline.

“I smoked for years and years,” he said. “I didn’t exercise and I was so out of shape.”

“When I was young I remember him being a runner,” LeAnna said of her dad. “But that was when I was 6 or 7 and I can’t remember him doing any exercise after that. Except golf – if you can even count that as exercise.”

Dave finally managed to quit smoking a few years ago and then LeAnna pushed him into cycling.

“She talked me into buying a bike,” said Dave, who is a safety manager with American Electric Power (AEP) and a member of the company’s Pelotonia peloton (AEP Energizers For A Cure).

The two started riding together.

“I had my bike for about a week,” LeAnna said. “We decided to do this (Columbus Outdoor Pursuits) ride and do the 32-mile option. At the end I was so tired I literally fell off my bike. I thought, I’m in the worst shape ever. But then, when we were putting my bike back on the rack, my father discovered the rear brake had been on (clinching the tire and making it very hard to pedal) the whole time.”

Whew, LeAnna wasn’t in as bad of shape as she thought!

Unfortunately, she hurt her back soon after and eventually, in October 2009, had surgery. Her back is feeling better and stronger … and she and Dave are riding more and more.

Dave has dropped 25 pounds since he started cycling – and feels like a new man.

Cycling has changed both of their lives - for the better

“Cycling has changed how I feel, my outlook and I’m sure it’s not only helped the quality of my life, but will prolong my life,” he said.

Now, he can actually climb hills … and feel good at the top.

“Not carrying that extra 25 pounds makes such a difference,” Dave said, adding he still can’t keep up with his daughter on the inclines. “She can climb hills like you can’t believe.”

LeAnna and her husband, Derek have two children, Nia, 8, and David, 5. The four of them often ride together. The entire family was already quite close, but have rallied around Dave, LeAnna – and Pelotonia.

Kareena Gibson – who is Dave’s daughter and LeAnna’s sister – will be a Pelotonia volunteer this year and may one day join Team Tang and ride in Pelotonia.

Team Tang?

During a ride…

“We stopped at a stop sign and as we got ready to take off this giant team of people, with matching jerseys and looking super professional came by,” LeAnna explained. “They yelled ‘stopping’ and then ‘rolling” as they took off all together. None of us in our group had matching jerseys and we were riding mountain bikes and tandems. On the back of their jerseys it said lemonade and we joked that we should be Team Tang.”

The name stuck … and T-shirts were designed and printed.

Here are the famous Team Tang T-shirts

I recently rode with Dave and LeAnna during a Pelotonia training ride – and it’s easy to see both have not only become strong riders, but have also joined the growing legion of obsessed – but in a good way! –  cyclists.

“Yeah, we are,” LeAnna admitted. “I have to stop myself from talking to people about biking who aren’t into it.”

10 Things About Dave and LeAnna…

Favorite ride

Dave: The River Rendezvous

LeAnna: Around Indian lake

Dream ride:

Dave: Colorado

LeAnna: Northern California

Current Pelotonia bike

Dave: Trek Madone

LeAnna: Giant Avail Advanced

Dream bike

Dave: The one I have

LeAnna: I think I have it

Favorite movie

Dave: Fail-Safe

LeAnna: Forrest Gump

Favorite band/singer

Dave: Blood, Sweat & Tears

LeAnna: The Cure

Favorite TV show

Dave: M*A*S*H

LeAnna: The Daily Show

Favorite book

Dave: The Source

LeAnna: A Prayer for Owen Meany

Favorite athlete

Dave: Archie Griffin

LeAnna: Anyone who doesn’t cheat on their spouse

Favorite post-ride meal

Dave: Steak and baked potato

LeAnna: Chicken-and-mushroom kabob with a Corona and lime


1 Comment »

  1. Dave & LeAnna,

    It is great that the two of you have found a common activity in which to participate. Finding time in today’s busy lifestyle and maintaining the commitment to yourselves and your families is admirable.

    Soon, I hope to hear that Grand Dad and grandchildren ride the US together.

    Go Team Tang!

    Comment by Dennis Meyer — May 26, 2010 @ 9:21 AM

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