ALS TDI Tri-State Trek Rider Profile: Shawn Schulte

Cycling / Events / Outdoor Adventure (Unique lifestyle/travel/personal experience)

Here at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, one of our largest annual fundraisers is the ALS TDI Tri-State Trek, a 270-mile bicycle ride from Newton, Massachusetts to Greenwich, Connecticut happening this year from July 19-21. Last year, Eastern Mountain Sports gave me the opportunity to write about my personal connection to the cause, along with my top reasons why riders of all abilities should consider joining us on this great adventure. This year, EMS is generously allowing me to profile some of the folks I have had the pleasure of riding with over the years. Over the next few months, I’ll be featuring them here on the EMS blog. Perhaps they will inspire you to either accept the challenge of riding with us, donate to the cause, volunteer along the route or simply come out and cheer.

We are about one month from this years Trek. The excitement level always rises a notch or two during this time. For this post, I’m pleased to introduce Shawn Schulte, who first started riding the Trek the same year I did. We both lost a parent to this awful disease and we’re driven by the same desire to defeat it.

Shawn1

Name: Shawn Schulte

Age: 40

Hometown: Columbus, OH

TST Team Name: Been solo for years, yet this year I’m honored to ride with Team Follow Me

How many times have you ridden the TST?

Going on my 7th year

Who or what inspires you to ride the ALS TDI Tri-State Trek?

It’s a complex question and not easily answered.  My mother and her grace, nobility, and defiance inspire me daily in this fight.   When she passed in 2006, I realized I needed to do something about this disease, for all those who were fighting.  I began contacting many ALS focused organizations and the first one who was ever genuinely passionate and seemed willing to help me was ALSTDF.  The first year, the very first person I met was Andy Rubenstein and it was his warmth, compassion, energy, and inclusive attitude that immediately made this solitary rider from Ohio (who was about to do his first century ride the following day), immediately welcome and feeling good about the challenge ahead.

So it is this general family-like unity that most inspires me and this is distinctly different from all other charity events that I have ridden on.  It was the inspiration for the Iron Horse Challenge that I built in Ohio to support the local chapter.  It was the idea of action creating a unified and accepting community, where all voices could be heard and everyone was supporting each other.  This is rare and part of the special nature of the Tri State Trek.

What’s the worst part about having or knowing someone with ALS?

I don’t see a person with ALS; I see a person.  It is through the grace of who they are that I am allowed into the gift of their life and I am honored when they reach across the disease they struggle against to share some part of themselves.  The best part of knowing someone is getting to know them well enough to care about them and to feel they are a part of your life, that they are your friend, and your teacher.  So often I meet people who are fighting ALS and the limitations created by the disease, seems to concentrate their words and actions in a way that allows you to know them, their spirit, their heart, and their will in a way that is devoid of illusions.  They don’t want to waste any time with living incompletely.  The best part is being around them as they defy it all and make themselves more real and present than most people.  It’s in watching a person fully engaged with being alive that we find the greatest reason to celebrate.  To watch this passionate life as it becomes blanketed by ALS, watching as mobility and voice are lost, as they lose their freedom, and ultimately lose their life- this is the deepest loss to us all.  In losing the connection to that amazing life, its evolution, we are left with the echoes of the example they provide, and the passion they embody. Perhaps that is the most painful aspect of losing someone: being left with the love and the echoes.

Shawn2

 What’s the best part about the ALS TDI Tri-State Trek?

The unity and the family nature of the event.  The joy and fellowship, the passion, the ability to join hands with so many wonderful people, travel 3 states with them, pedal 270 miles and share the journey.  To hear everyone’s story and share your own and in doing so give new life to the fight to end ALS.  To see so much love being manifested and created, celebrated and honored.  That’s the meaning behind ‘More Cowbell’.

 How much riding/training do you do to prepare for the ride?

I don’t own a car.  No license.  I bike everyday – to work, home, grocery store, everywhere.  I make sure I do some longer rides to ‘condition’ myself to the touring bike and try to squeeze in 50-75 mile rides as the event gets closer.  Ideally I like to do a century just to be sure, but honestly if you ride consistently, control your nutrition and hydration, and can ride at least 3/4th of a expected distance, you can ride the whole when the time comes and still be in a condition to enjoy it and feel challenged by it.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about registering for the ride, but is feeling nervous? 

Remember first that you ride for others: to celebrate, to remember, to honor, and to give their lives voice.  Through that you can accomplish anything.  Don’t hesitate, commitment and action must be immediate, for without you and your energy, the wheel that must be turned to find a cure cannot move.  It takes all of us, unity and as a family, to challenge the silence, to give our love a voice, and to take a step towards ending ALS.  Love never ends and with it you can accomplish anything.

Dave Virden


Dave is a married father of two who, for the bulk of his career, was a consumer products marketing guy working on products like Dunkin' Donuts, Volkswagen & Samuel Adams brews. In 2006 his Dad was diagnosed with ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and everything changed. Dave wanted to immediately apply his marketing experience to ALS, generating the awareness and advocacy the disease so sorely needs. Fulfilling that goal, he now works as a Development Director at the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, MA (www.als.net). A five-time rider in the annual ALS TDI Tri-State Trek - a 3 day, 270 mile bike ride from Boston to Greenwich, CT raising funds and awareness for ALS research - he is now part of the team producing the ride (www.tristatetrek.com).

5 Comments

  1. July 12, 2013, 3:45 am

    In 2006 I rode in the Trek myself. It was one of the best – and most difficult – experiences of my life. The energy and passion of every single rider, crew member, volunteer and cheerleader is not something I’ll soon forget.

  2. July 7, 2013, 6:28 pm

    Pearless-Healy, who is originally from Massachusetts, learned about the trek from her brother Kreg Pearless, 28, who lives in Boston – where the ride begins.

  3. June 26, 2013, 12:31 pm

    We Need More Cowbell! Riders of the annual Tri-State Trek cycle 270 miles from Boston to New York, making noise and raising money to end ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Come to ride, volunteer, or just cheer!

  4. June 24, 2013, 4:36 pm

    I am very honored and grateful to Eastern Mountain Sports for all of the support they have shared with the ALS community over the years and the specific support they have offered ALSTDI and the Tri State Trek. The dedication and consistently passionate way they have allowed our stories to come forward, are amazing gifts that I am truly appreciative of and I want to thank them for all they do!
    Best Wishes to the whole team,
    Shawn Schulte
    http://tst.als.net/alswarriorohio2013

  5. Darin Hadinger
    June 21, 2013, 7:23 pm

    I have had the great opportunity to have Shawn as a friend and ride with him on legs of his trip. I don’t think you can find many more stronger, more committed warriors against ALS than he. His heart is in it 100% year round. A true ALS warrior who has all my respect.

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