The Rider

August 17, 2010

Pelotonia is Now Personal For This Rider

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

Tom Pelto was intrigued by the challenge of riding his first century (100 miles) – and decided to sign up for the inaugural Pelotonia.

“I’m an avid cyclist,” said the president of AT&T Ohio. “For the last five years I’ve been on a program and ride 100 miles a week … and thought Pelotonia was a good chance to get out of my comfort zone.”

This year, Tom said, Pelotonia “is personal.”

Tom was diagnosed with cancer on July 23

On July 23, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma – and was told he needed chemotherapy and radiation, the normal protocol for this very treatable form of cancer.

“There was a little bit of a debate about when I would start my treatment,” Tom said, adding it will be August 27 – after he rides the 102-mile route in Pelotonia. “I didn’t want to start chemo and then have to ride 100 miles, that would be tough. But if my doctor would have said delaying the start would have had any affect on my chances at all, I would have said ‘we need to start right now.’”

Tom’s personal connection to Pelotonia actually began during the 2009 ride. It started as a challenge to ride 100 miles for the first time and raise money for a good cause, which he did. By the time he got to Athens, it had become something much more important. This, BTW, happened to a lot of riders, maybe even you.

“I was so amazed by all the volunteers and people out there on the streets and on their front porches, and the signs,” he said, adding he very much remembers the impromptu rest stop a few local residents set up at the top of one of the Hocking Hills climbs. “I’m no Lance Armstrong and it was impressive to me that even as the later riders rode through, how enthusiastic the support was – and I was amazed at how first-class the whole operation was.”

Tom said his attitude is one of determination and optimism as he begins his battle against cancer. He has been inspired by the survivors he has met and talked with, including Pelotonia Executive Director Tom Lennox.

“We were both in shock at first,” he said of the reaction he and his wife, Maria Arias, when they were told the news. “But this is very treatable.”

Tom intends to maintain a positive attitude – and continue to cycle. The overall conditioning and strength from all this exercise will help him stay strong – and relieve some of the stress that comes from his hectic job and the chemo and radiation treatments.

Tom has been with AT&T for 20 years, and moved to Central Ohio and his current position in July 2008.

“Before that I’d never stepped foot in Ohio,” he said, adding he did once drive across the Buckeye state. Cycling – and last year’s Pelotonia ride – have helped him discover the beauty of the area.

Maria is an executive at Comcast and lives in Colorado Springs. And yes, Tom said, their commuter marriage has been tough the past two years.

AT&T Ohio will have a peloton comprised of what Tom calls “a small, gritty band of 11 riders.”

In 2011, he promises a bigger AT&T presence.

“I see this as the second of many Pelotonia rides for me,” he said of Saturday’s big event. “And I see myself riding in the future as a survivor.”

10 things about Tom…

Favorite ride

Pelotonia

Dream ride

The Rocky Mountains

Current Pelotonia bike

Orbea Orca

Dream bike

What I have now

Favorite movie

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Favorite band/singer

The Rolling Stones

Favorite TV show

Entourage

Favorite book

Finca Vigia, the complete short stories of Hemingway

Favorite athlete

Arnold Palmer

Favorite post-ride meal

A burger and a beer

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2 Comments »

  1. I see that your dream ride is in the Rocky Mountains. You should check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. I just finished a triathlon with them. They have a Rocky Mountain chapter for those living in Colorado, but now have a virtual team and you can participate in events all over the country no matter where you live. It’s a great program, much like Pelotonia. They also have a century ride around Lake Tahoe. Anyway, you should check it out! Good luck this weekend!!

    Comment by Sarah — August 17, 2010 @ 1:45 PM

  2. Tom, You are in my thoughts and prayers for both the success of your ride for Pelotonia and the ride for Recovery! Sending positive energy your way… Carmen & Miguel 🙂

    Comment by Carmen — August 18, 2010 @ 9:47 PM


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