Drafting for a Cause
“Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.” – Dr. K.K. Doty
No, this is not an article about cold air, prototypes or recruitment, although the Device Solutions’ members of Team on Draft (TOD) interviewed here may try to interest you in joining their team or joining them for a cold one. Instead, we are talking about a technique employed by cyclists in which one cyclist rides closely behind a second. Also known as “following a wheel, sitting in, wheel sucking, and giving someone a tow,” drafting allows a rider to take advantage of another cyclist’s slipstream. By tucking in close behind the lead cyclist, the “drafter” no longer has to deal with wind resistance and is literally being carried along by the flow of the air. This saves energy and increases efficiency. In road races, groups of cyclists form packs known as “pelotons” or pace lines called an “echelon.” Cyclists riding in these groups can expend up to 40 percent less energy than cyclists who are not drafting with a group. Drafting is both an intriguing lesson in aerodynamics and a wonderful symbol for how camaraderie and teamwork can make a difference in the world.
Founded in April of 2011, the 1,178 members of TOD meet regularly to cycle for fun, fitness and to raise money to combat Multiple Sclerosis. They describe themselves as “… an inclusive and diverse group where you don’t have to be a ‘hard core’ road biker to join in a ride.” Although they do a number of rides to generate funds, the biggest is the weekend-long Bike MS event held in New Bern, North Carolina each September, also known as MS150.
Device Solutions has been a silver sponsor of TOD since 2013. In addition to sponsorship, the team raises money through the participants themselves. Each person who registers for the MS150 ride receives a fundraising page, and the money he/she raises is added to the team’s overall total. To give you an idea of how effective the team’s efforts have been, TOD raised over $126,000 for the MS150 ride in 2015!
Three members of Device Solutions are currently TOD members – Pat Roberts, Tristan Novak and Bob Witter. The newest member of the team, Tristan Novak, has been cycling since he was very young. An avid outdoorsman, Tristan has been “… mountain biking my whole life, but got into road biking more in college.” Tristan learned about TOD through Bob and Pat, who encouraged him to join and ride with them. “The best part of being a member of TOD,” says Tristan, “is helping out a good cause. With the group’s combined efforts, we are a lot more effective than the sum of the individual abilities in terms of fundraising.”
Pat, who has been riding since her early twenties, really enjoys the esprit de corps of the team saying, ” We all look forward to the after-ride beverages and food as well as the rides. It’s a very social team, and lots of good friendships have developed from it.”
For his part, CEO Bob Witter sees TOD as a great way to encourage members of Device Solutions to stay fit, release stress and give back. “I encourage everyone who works here to eat healthy foods, exercise, and do something for the community,” he says.
Oh, and about that beer. The allusion to draft beer, as well as the cycling technique, is not a coincidence. The members of Team on Draft not only practice the fine art of following a wheel, but also enjoy spending time together sampling a variety of brews. Their team jerseys, which are remarkable works of art in their own right, always reflect the two sides of the team – fundraising for a cause and enjoying time with friends. Or, as Tristan likes to say, “No matter how good you are, there’s always a beer for you.”