R2//NYC Rider Profile – Laura

laura riding her bike

With R2//NYC on the horizon, we’re excited to showcase some of our dedicated rider community. We sat down with Laura D’ Andrea, R2//NYC’s route guru, leadership committee member, previous team captain and all-star rider.

Campfire Circle: Can you tell us about yourself and your connection to camp?

Laura Andrea: It was through R2//NYC that I discovered Campfire Circle, which was then Camp Ooch.

In 2019, a friend of mine planned to do the ride and encouraged me to do it. At the time, I had never done anything in this magnitude, both in distance and elevation. It was truly a leap of faith. My husband and I cycle together so we decided to recruit some friends and we formed a team.

This September is going to be my third time riding to New York City, and we’re really excited for what’s ahead!

CC: What keeps you coming back?

LD’A: It’s a combination of a lot of different factors, to be honest. Cycling is a big passion for me. I like the fitness component and that it also gets me up early in the morning to enjoy the outdoors.

And now by doing R2//NYC, it combines a purpose with my passion. It’s aligned with my values. We’re fundraising for kids with cancer. They are the ones who need play in a way that we can’t even comprehend. So for me, it gives me that extra level of motivation. When I’m on my bike, I’m getting to play, and it’s a fortunate feeling for me to be on this mountain right now.

I also love the connections we’ve made and the supportive team at Campfire Circle.

The calibre of care and the commitment they make to support you during the full five days was something I didn’t expect the first time I went.

group of riders on bikes on the road to new york city

As a rider, you’re putting a lot of faith and trust in people when you do something like this because we’re pretty out there. We’re very exposed and a little vulnerable. To have people taking care of us, supporting us, taking care of us and making sure we’re safe, fed, and comfortable, it’s a big reason why I repeat this ride and why I also agreed to join the leadership committee to help plan it.

CC: What advice would you give to new riders?

L’D’A: The advice I have for riders is to believe that you can do it. Really believe in yourself, even if you’ve never done something like this before.
Part of the journey is as much mental preparation as it is physical preparation.

As close as you can ahead of time, really prepare the body, especially the nervous system, for what’s going to happen.

Riding around Toronto and the GTA, it’s very flat. We rode a lot of kilometres in preparation for the 2019 ride. We climbed hills, but maybe we didn’t climb hills that were steep enough. So I didn’t necessarily feel like my body was super prepared the first time I went. So I think now it’s a combination of putting on lots of kilometres at varying speeds as well as repetitively training the elevation of different grades, especially double-digit grades, such as 10% and above. Your muscles are working differently and functioning in different ways when you’re climbing steeper hills.

laura and riders in the background on their bikes

This way, you’re training both your mental stamina and physical stamina.

We also recently introduced team training. In 2019, I knew the people I was riding with for the most part, and I didn’t really expect it to have this real kind of team bonding feeling.

So building on that, in team training, we ride together ahead of time so that we can feel a little bit more comfortable with each other and we can anticipate each other a little bit better. As a group, we work together, monitor, and manage our pace so that everyone can stay together.

The training and preparation and then actually going on the ride and experiencing it together and doing it successfully creates a real bond—a real camaraderie and fun, just fun.

CC: Going back to the ride, what is your favourite part?

LD’A: I love the scenery. It’s so beautiful and epic. That’s the thing about climbing, you also get to enjoy the descents. I will say I love descending. And so experiencing the ups, the downs, and the gorgeous scenery—it’s a big part of the ride.

laura and another rider on their bikes on the road to new york city

Of course, crossing the George Washington Bridge is a moment you don’t forget. The first time we did it, my husband just looked at me and said, “We just rode our bike to New York.” It creates this moment of fully being present in what you’ve done and what you’re doing. It’s monumental.

CC: Can you talk about some of your fundraising strategies?

LD’A: Quite honestly, I think my strategy is just telling more of the story. It’s about reaching out to your community, whether it’s through friends, family, or colleagues and letting them know what we’re doing and why it matters to us.

I think people who cycle or who are really into other sports don’t anticipate how interested other people will be. We think: “Well, nobody’s going to care. I’m just riding my bike.” But when you actually start to tell them about what you’re doing, how it’s pushing you out of your comfort zone, and the amount of training you’re putting in, and it creates a little more interest for them. They start to feel more connected to what you’re doing.

Then you can start to tell them why R2//NYC and Campfire Circle matters to you and who it’s benefiting. We’re all helping provide play for kids with cancer, and they are going to help support that.

It also helps you find extra motivation when you’re struggling or having a hard moment on your bike. You have to find inspiration and remember that you’re combining your passion with a purpose. So that for me is just something that will bring that extra level of motivation.

CC: What can we anticipate on this year’s route?

LD’A: This year’s route is exciting! There’s going to be a lot of green, like forest overhangs where the oxygen is so cooling. It provides excellent conditions for climbing.

It’s going to be beautiful as we ride alongside rivers and lakes, such as Keuka Lake and Lake Tobyhanna, and state parks, such as Harriman State Park, that we haven’t been through before. And we will repeat our epic trail that goes south beside the Hudson River.

It’s going to create an incredible experience. I can’t wait!

To learn more about R2//NYC and how you can support the riders, click on the button below.
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