I had the opportunity to sit down with my friend Jeff Swan from Team Spike last week to find out a little more about him and what he and Team Spike do to raise money to fight cancer. I’ve known Jeff since the 90’s and we have worked together on and off through-out our corporate careers. This is the first time that we will combine resources for a great cause. Yoga Belly will for the first time host this year’s Team Spike charity Silent Auction. This is the big yearly fundraising event that they put together to raise money for the LIVESTRONG foundation.
1. What’s your history with riding?
How far should I go back? As a kid with a BMX bike we used to make ramps in the street and jump things (including fire and other kids). I used to pretend I was Evel Knievel and even painted my football helmet to match. Fast forward a few years and I got my first Mtn Bike when I was 24 and would ride all the local trails with my friends and dog – Spike. In July of 2001, my dad said he was going to do a 100k charity road ride and wanted to know if I wanted to do it also. At the time I’ve never gone farther than 20 miles but I couldn’t let my 65yr dad “out ride” me so I said sure. I had my buddy take me out on same road rides and thought I was ready to go. The ride was September 16, 2001 and turned out to be days after 9/11. That first Surf City Aids ride turned into something much bigger and I was hooked on the road. BTW – I started shaving my legs a month before the ride and joking to Sherilyn that I was a “roadie” and had to do it and that I would stop after the ride but I guess I’m addicted now since my legs have been smooth for the last 11 years
2. Any personal heroes?
Heroes is probably a strong word but I would say Lance Armstrong was one of them. I used to follow his cycling career before he had cancer and won the Tour de France and was quite shocked when I heard he had cancer. I guess as you get older, Sporting Heroes tend to fade since they come and go in the sporting world. My parents are also people that I look up to and respect. My mom has always supported everything I do and even as a 44yr old, she still comes out to the big bike races or hockey games to watch. I have nothing but respect for my dad. 77 yrs old and still out running and going to the gym
3. Have you had an opportunity to meet Lance?
Yes – in 2008, the LiveStrong challenge came to San Jose and we won the best jersey design contest. By doing so, our entire team was invited on stage and was presented an award by Lance
4. What inspired you to want to combine your love of riding and fundraising for LIVESTRONG?
I’ve always followed lance Armstrong as a cyclist and since he came back from cancer in 2008, I always wanted to ride in his Ride for the Roses ride in Austin. In 2004, Ryan, Michelle, Sherilyn and I just got back from France (following the tour de France, eating and drinking way too much wine) and I happened to say to Sherilyn that I always wanted to do the ride for the roses. She tells me about 10 minutes later – “Done”. She had gone online and booked the trip. All we had to do was raise the minimum amount to do the ride (I think it was $500 back then). Once we got to Austin and experienced it the first time, we were hooked. You would be out on the 5k walk on Saturday and see all the kids that had “I’m a Survivor” on them and your heart would break. Then on the ride you would see everyone that was a Survivor, Riding in Honor of someone or the worst, Riding in Memory of someone. I’ll never forget that first year when tandem bicycle went by me with a rider on the front and a picture of his wife on the back seat
with a sign saying he was riding in Memory of his wife. It just seemed like a perfect fit – I hated Cancer and loved riding my bike
5. How did you form Team Spike to benefit LIVESTRONG?
Our first year that we attended the Ride for the Roses was in 2004 in Austin, TX. The ride was later named the LiveStrong challenge a few years later. That first year it was just Sherilyn and I but we had such a good time that when we got back I told my dad that he needed to go with us the following year. The following year we signed up again and since there were 3 of us, we decided we needed to be a “team”. I tossed around different team names like the Swan Trio but since Sherilyn’s last name wasn’t Swan, that wasn’t going to work. I then decided to name the team after my dog Spike that had just died of cancer a few years earlier. The team name is actually from a video that my dad had made me years ago while he had Spike at his house and he named the video Spike The Wonder Dog – it seemed like a perfect team name for the 3 of us. So in 2005 and 2006 we were Team Spike the Wonder Dog and raised over $5,000. We thought we were pretty cool and we were. In 2007 I had some cycling friends that were going to do the Livestrong challenge in Austin and I talked them into joining our little team. I also decided to make some cheap jersey’s since we were a much bigger team of 8 riders now. Turns out, one of my riding friends was a graphic artist and helped me design a real jersey. The Team Spike jersey was born and all our riding friends at home like it so much they wanted one too. Team Spike is now over 60 riders strong and in the US, Japan and South Africa. We have also raised over $200,000 since that first year Sherilyn and I went Austin.
6. How often do you ride in races?
By races I assume you really mean charity rides. I now only do the Livestrong challenge and try to do the Santa Cruz Mtn Challenge. We also have a group of riders that does the Tour de Cure every year that supports the American Diabetes Association. Real Races = 5 – 10 a year.
7 Are you currently training for anything?
If you ask my wife I’m always training for something but yes, right now I’m training for the Sea Otter Classic Mtn Bike (MTB) race on 4/22/12 and then a 24 hour MTB race at Laguna Seca as part of a 5-man team June 9-10. I also race in a local MTB series that goes through the middle of July.
8. If you're not cycling, what is your go to physical activity?
Ice Hockey is my second passion
9. Have you tried yoga?
Aaron took me to planet granite for my first ever yoga class and I’ve done “gym yoga” (which I’m told is not real yoga)
10. We’ve known each other for a while, how did we meet?
We met at the wonderful world of Sykes Enterprises. You were this shy kid and I said “hey, you look like you need a friend”. Pretty much from that day on I haven’t been able to get you to shut up
11. What’s our song?
Savage Garden – I knew I loved you OR is it Shania Twain/Bryan White duet – from this moment on
(I have to interject and say that Jeff and I have shared a cube wall on more than one occasion in our corporate careers, many private jokes and only one call to the HR hotline. We are now 3 cubes away so he currently enjoys coming to scare me over the wall. It makes me jump every time he prairie dogs his head over the wall and yells )
12. What are 3 words that describe you?
13. If you can have dinner with any 3 people alive or dead, who would they be?
Jesus would have to by number one (as long as he speaks English or there’s a translator) I think it would be really interesting to talk to my ancestors and find out the history of how I came to be – great great great grandfather: why did you go to America? Really smart people like Einstein would be OUT since I wouldn’t be able to understand them anyway.I might have to put Bob Roll on that list too and listen to him tell cycling stories
14. You stub your toe on the coffee table.... You scream out:
15. What's your favorite comfort food?
3 dishes my mom makes – chicken fried steak, tacos and ground beef oriental (I always try to get her to make all 3 for my bday even though they don’t really go together)
For more information regarding the event you can go to www.spikethewonderdog.com or purchase tickets through Yoga Belly at http://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ws.asp?studioid=11869&stype=-8&sTG=23&sVT=9&sView=day&sTrn=100000088
Even you cant attend the auction, please feel free to make a donation by purchasing tickets or in the studio.