Prior to 2011, the longest distance Eric Ammons had ridden a bike at one time was about five miles. Over the Labor Day weekend, he logged 100.348 miles (exactly), and he did it in 8 hours, 23 minutes and triple-digit heat!
The Mercy Hospital-Independence CEO made the 100-mile trek in the name of “Healthification,” Mercy’s initiative to help improve the health and wellness of co-workers and their families by emphasizing healthy eating, physical activity and life balance.
Earlier this year, Mercy CEO Lynn Britton challenged all hospital leaders across the ministry to model healthier lifestyles by establishing a minimum of three personal Healthification goals and posting them publicly for all to see.
Having already accomplished a 2% reduction in body fat and his first screening colonoscopy procedure, Eric checked the third and final 2011 goal off his list with Saturday’s bike ride.
“I plan on having a full mental health evaluation to see if I am competent to set my own Healthification goals for next year,” Eric said, after a couple of days of post-ride recovery. “Even the hairs on my legs were sore on Sunday. I know they (leg hairs) aren’t supposed to have nerve endings, but we may have to investigate further.”
Eric began his journey at 6:12 a.m. at Mercy Health Center in Fort Scott, sister hospital to Mercy-Independence and his home prior to assuming the Independence leadership role in 2009. He reached the finish line – Mercy Hospital of Independence – at 2:35 p.m., with only five rest stops along the way. (Note for future insane bike rides: More rest stops!)
Eric said “counting roadkill” helped him pass the time and focus on something other than the grueling physical demands of the ride. (Final count: 27 armadillos, three cats, one raccoon, two skunks, one possum and 35 unidentified.) And thankfully, his wife and training partner, Chris, joined him for the second half of the ride.
“Incredible lady,” Eric said. “However, she maybe rethinking that ‘for better and for worse’ part of our vows.”
Pain, agony and dehydration aside, Eric discovered great rewards in his biking adventure – a beautiful southeast Kansas sunrise, encouragement from passing motorists, great support from his kids who were his checkpoint support team, quality camaraderie with his wife/biking partner and lots of post-ride congratulations from his co-workers.
All in the name of “Healthification” and, perhaps on a deeper level, in the name of ministry.
“While this Saturday we had awesome teamwork to make this 100-mile ride a possibility, it pales in comparison to the teamwork that is the Mercy ministry,” Eric said. “I was inspired for this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor by the dedication I see every day in our co-workers.”