Cyclists detour into Pediatrics

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The Optum Professional Cycling team took a detour from training for a big race to bring out the smiles of the kiddos at TMC for Children.

With the 30-mile Old Pueblo Grand Prix coming up Saturday, the six-member team signed T-shirts, gave out baseball caps and shared stories with children throughout the Pediatric unit.

The cyclists – Mike Friedman, Scott Zwizanski, Ian Moir, Cody O’Reilly, Anna Barensfeld and Leah Kirchmann – shared stories of perseverance through adversity.

“When we race, sometimes we get injured or get sick or crash, and we have to fight through it and keep our eyes on the prize,” Barensfeld said. “We know that racing is different from the fight that these kids are going through, but we thought maybe just talking about how to approach adversity might help.”

The group also spoke about the importance of good nutrition and bicycle safety.

Friedman told kids it was important to wear a bike helmet, even for short distances. Pointing at his head, the 29-year-old said, “This thing is actually really soft, even though it seems hard.”

Friedman shared his experience riding in a 207-mile race that took more than eight hours to finish and shared the most unexpected food he ever ate while racing: baked potatoes dressed with olive oil and parmesan cheese.

They also shared their stories of traveling all over the world for their careers. The team might be based in Minnesota, but Zwizanski said cycling has brought him to every continent.

The bicycles – light enough to lift with one hand and carrying a price tag in excess of $5,000 – were a big hit, too, particularly when the racers popped the wheels off with a quick tug.

When one patient said she liked to ride bicycles, but hadn’t been able to of late, the team reassured her. “You’ll get back to it,” O’Reilly said.

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