Bike and Roll NYC has a new partner . . . ElliptiGO. These “bikes” (for lack of a better word) are elliptical machines on wheels. Imagine yourself on a bike, but instead of pedals your feet are moving forward and backward on platforms as they do on an elliptical machine. You’re standing up, so you’re much higher than you are on a bike, your hands are on handle bars with hand brakes, and you have gears so you can really get moving or up a hill. Unlike an elliptical machine at a gym, you’re not staring at a wall, a screen, a book, or a magazine, you’re out and about. It’s surprisingly easy!
We had the privilege yesterday of meeting Rick Hermelin, an amazing 71-year-old former Marine who is going to cross the country on an ElliptiGO to benefit the Semper Fi Fund. Starting from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina on March 23rd, Rick is planning to ride across the southern tier of the US in 100 days and arrive at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. The Semper Fi Fund gives support to injured Marines and their families during recuperation. We are still a nation at war with many injured service men and women returning home to the harsh challenge of rehabilitation. Rick’s journey is an honorable effort put forth by an honorable man.
Rick likes even numbers. He’s been running for 35 years and has completed 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons, and 100 10K races. He doesn’t look a day older than 60. He’s a lifelong athlete who knows how to take care of his body. He’s one of the most centered people imaginable — caring, easy, gentle.
ElliptiGO is a southern California company trying to get their product better known in the East Coast market. As part of their efforts, they have asked us to add several ElliptiGOs to our fleet of bikes and make them available for demonstrations and rentals.
So when Rick was asked to appear on Fox & Friends at their New York studio onFriday morning (and by morning, I mean real morning — 6am) to promote his journey for the Semper Fi Fund, we were asked to provide the ElliptiGOs, a couple of people to get the Fox & Friends hosts on and off the bikes, helmets, and general support.
The beautiful weather this winter has meant that our season has started earlier than usual. Sixty degrees in March isn’t unheard of, but a long stretch of 60-degree days gets everyone thinking about bikes and riding the city’s parks and bike paths. Translation: the ElliptiGOs were still in their boxes as we got our other fleet built, tuned, and distributed. But we jumped to it and got four ElliptiGOs built and ready for Rick’s appearance.
Fox & Friends is incredibly organized. I got a call at home at 5:30am to be sure that everything was going as planned. I explained I was only a 10-minute cab ride away and would be there on time (I got there at 5:45). Rick was already waiting. Two Bike and Roll assistants were there by 5:50 and the ElliptiGOs were ready to be unloaded from the truck, too. The plaza next to the studio where we unloaded them was too inviting not to take a test ride. As the sun came up we were riding and laughing and getting every passersby’s attention.
Rick was called into make-up at about 7:15, then mic’ed up at 7:20. At 7:25 he was asked to go out to the plaza for a “teaser.” He was joined by Brian Kilmeade who hopped on an ElliptiGO and rode like a pro.
Anchors being anchors, no helmet was used, but we always recommend the use of a helmet . . . on a bike, on an ElliptiGO. It’s just a wise habit to have.
After the teaser came the actual interview. Rick was fantastic. He’s a natural on camera. What was a bit unexpected, though, was that Steve Doocy immediately joined Rick and Brian on an ElliptiGO. The producer got on one, too. The newbies were all immediate experts. And the plenty-big plaza wasn’t big enough — suddenly they were going around to the 6th Avenue side of the building, out on the sidewalk, anywhere they could get some speed going. I was glad it was still early and pedestrians were few and far between. There was one near-collision by the corner of the building where there was no visibility, but no crashes.
Okay, so the coverage of Bike and Roll didn’t happen, but it did make it clear to us that the interest in the ElliptiGO is huge.
We packed up the bikes and helmets and headed off to our next stop — a media event for Rick at our Bike and Roll location at Tavern on the Green. It was still quite early and no media reps were expected before 10am, so we got to spend some time with Rick in a nearby cafe and hear about his life and his journey to this incredible trek across the country.
Born in Mexico City, Rick moved to the US with his family when he was 7. He grew up in Texas, then served a four-year stint in the Marine Corps after Korea and before Viet Nam. He served in Laos. As an athlete he became interested in physiology, which led to a degree in massage therapy.
“I’ve never felt pain,” he told us. “It was only after I started to study massage therapy that I understood what other athletes felt. The ElliptiGO has no pressure points, so it’s great for everyone. If you can walk, you can ride one.”
After we set up at Tavern on the Green, several people came over to try out an ElliptiGO. One gentleman said, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but there’s just something really sexy about them.”
Once at Tavern on the Green, media reps from MSNBC and Fox News interviewed Rick. It was fun to see them courteously stay out of each other’s shots. When it comes to bikes, there is no politics.
After the interviews (where Rick was charming and informative — a natural), a man on an ElliptiGo road up. Richard, also 71, and Rick struck up an immediate friendship and talked for about an hour. Richard was looking for some advice on hills and Rick had it for him. As they were chatting, another man on an ElliptiGO road past on the park drive. I’ve seen an ElliptiGO twice in the past year, so seeing several independently seemed to imply some sort of harmonic ElliptiGO convergence.
The ElliptiGOs got so much attention that we left all four at Bike and Roll at Tavern on the Green. If you want to try one, take one for a ride, or rent one for the day, come to our Tavern on the Green location, open every day from 9am to 5pm. The weather is supposed to be in the 60s and even hit 70 next week, perfect for riding any bike: Comfort, Performance, Race, tandem, or ElliptiGO!