Many know the struggle of gyms being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but TS Bank’s Council Bluffs market president, Dave Wise, didn’t let that stop him from taking care of his physical health.
To continue exercising while maintaining social distancing, Wise picked up cycling. He became interested in cycling when spin instructors Justin Hankins and Beth Paprocki invited him to try it out.
“Justin is a pretty experienced adventure racer and he introduced me to mountain biking and eventually gravel riding,” Wise said. “Gravel riding has really exploded in the U.S. over the last few years. It combines the best of road, mountain and cyclocross biking and given the endless miles of gravel in southwest Iowa I fell in love with the sport.”
Since Jan. 1, Wise has logged 1,534 miles and climbed 89,209 feet — three times the height of Mt. Everest. While cycling has improved his physical health, it has also bolstered his mental strength.
“It has definitely improved my overall health and well-being,” Wise said. “Going out for long stretches on my bike gives me time to unwind from the stresses of everyday life. I think it’s been most helpful for my mental state especially given the COVID situation.”
On Aug. 22, Wise rode 100 miles with Trek 100 to raise money for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Inc. (MACC). Trek 100 was virtual this year so riders could pick their own route.
“I was thinking in my head how far it would be to ride to all the TS Bank branches in southwest Iowa and when I mapped it, it came out to 99 miles,” he said. “When I saw that I knew I had my route.”
The route started at the TS Bank branch in Corning and continued to Atlantic, Treynor, a stop in Oakland for food and hydration and then to Council Bluffs. When he reached TS Bank at 43 Scott Street, they did a lap around the block to finish their trip at exactly 100 miles.
Wise had not heard of MACC before the event, but had always been a Trek bike fan and he saw they were partnering with them. After researching, Wise became impressed with the organization.
“For whatever reason, I have seen too many cases of childhood cancer with people close to me,” he said. “The St. Albert community tragically lost Yaretzy Aguilar in February, and a dear friend from high school lost her daughter Olivia Hautala in May. Eli Shepard, another St. Albert kid, has been battling cancer and is now cancer free. I was really affected by their stories and their perseverance in the face of terrible odds.”
Wise wanted to quit during the ride several times, but what he was going through was nowhere near what kids and their families go through while battling cancer, he said.
“If they could fight cancer, I could keep riding.”
Wise has always been a goal setter. When he started running he had goals to complete a half marathon and then a full marathon.
“When I got into cycling it was the same thing. I did my first 40-mile race last fall (East West Groveler) and my first 50 (Cornhusker State Games) this summer. A century ride was the next distance I wanted to tackle,” he said.
Even though cycling is often perceived as an individual sport, Wise said he couldn’t have done it without his team.
“Around mile 60 I ran out of water and was experiencing some pretty painful cramping,” he said. “My crew shared some water and electrolytes with me and gave me the mental support I needed to continue the ride.”
Wise is an avid runner, and still runs weekly, but he said biking is less taxing on his body. He’s also been able to travel to different places to ride.
“Last year, we went to Moab (Utah) which is the ultimate in mountain biking. A couple years ago I never could have envisioned myself riding in a place like Moab,” he said. “I have also met so many great people in the sport that have taken me under their wing and exposed me to racing.”
One of his goals is returning to Moab and riding mountain bikes again. He’s waiting for travel to be safe again, for now, he added.