To donate to Chai Lifeline's Bike the Drive, please click HERE.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hey!  Training for Bike The Drive has been going good, but soon I hope to be actually biking outside.
For the past several months I've been training in my basement, since the weather hasn't been too great here in Chicago.

I think that using my bike trainer has helped me keep in shape, but I really can't wait to actually bike on the North Shore sculpture trail along McCormick!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

...and so it begins!

Hi, I'm Neil.

Last year, with your help, I was able to raise an unprecedented amount of money for Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps terminally ill children and their parents. I biked a total of 45 miles on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago within 4 hours, which was personal record for me. I dedicated my biking to my father, Al Harris, of blessed memory, who had past away that year of Leukemia. While it was great being able to celebrate with my wife, children, and by brother (who came to town to join us), the real victory was the people helped by Chai Lifeline by your donations, especially in honor of my father a"h. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me and my entire family from across the country.

This will be my fourth year Biking the Drive for Chai Lifeline. I am currently training (indoors), but soon will be hitting the streets of Chicago and Skokie biking in the evenings, getting ready for the big ride. I will admit, this year, I have another goal besides raising funds to help Chai Lifeline. This year I am hoping that my bike training will not only get me in ready for the ride, but will also help me get into better physical shape for life.

Chai, mean "life", and I have seen that that the work, love, care, and support that Chai Lifeline gives is truly a lifeline for many people. They provide so much for so many people. And now, together, we can both help them. The word "mitzvah" is derived from the Hebrew word meaning "to connect". By sponsoring me for Bike the Drive, you are making an unbreakable connection by directly helping so many children and their families.

I have the best trainers in the world working with wife and three kids. I know in the past I've had your support and I'm hoping you will sponsor me once again. So please look for more updates as I journey towards reaching my goal.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Training has started

A few weeks ago I got a bike trainer, so that even in the worst snowy weather in Chicago, I can still train indoors.  I'm getting ready for Chai Lifeline's Bike the Drive and with your help I will raise money to help terminally ill children and their families.  Last year, thanks to your help, I was able to raise more funds than anyone else.  I biked 45 miles in dedication to my father, of blessed memory.  This year I'll improve my record and improve my health.  I know my father would be proud of both.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


After weeks of training, a few late nights and the realization that I’m not as young as I use to be, I biked with Chai Cyclists as part of Chicago’s Bike the Drive on Sunday.

My good friend Kenny picked me up in his truck at 4:45 am and we drove downtown, parked and made our way to Grant Park, where Bike the Drive starts and finishes.  I started biking at 5:40 am and finished at 9:15 am. The weather was perfect. It was hazy (the sun didn’t really start shining until 9:00 am) and 66 degrees when I started. Unlike last year, there was very little wind, which made things great. I was, thanks to my hours and miles of training, able to bike at a rather steady pace, stopping every every 15 miles to refill my water bottle with Crystal Light packets. Things were going well until the last 7.5 miles, then I began to get a little tired. OK, really tired. Of course, others were biking too and I knew that I was almost finished. I kept going, like a man on a mission, and finally made it to the end.

Throughout the ride I was listening to shiurim and was able to get through a shiur on the history of the SlabodkaYeshiva, a biography of Rav Yitzchak Hutner and a discussion on Perfection in Human Relations. What Torah I was able to learn was in memory of:

  • Avraham ben Zorah a"h
  • Rivka bas Chaim Yosef a"h
  • Dan Halevi ben Ovadia a"h
  • Pesha bas Shmuel a"h
  • Yakov ben Rav Avraham Yosef a"h
  • Efraim ben Shlomo a"h
and as a refuah shelaima for:
  • Reuven ben Tova Chaya
  • Esther bas Sara
  • Yenta Tzarna bas Etya
  • Ayelet bas Nurit

At Grant Park, where the event ended, we were greeted at the Chai Lifeline tent by their staff and a nice breakfast of cream cheese sandwiches, pastries and orange juice (I was too exhausted to eat, but the orange juice hit the spot). Also, at 8:00 am I was greeted at Buckingham Fountain by my brother, David, who had come in for the event.

Kenny and I (along with my brother) then went back out our home where we were given the welcome of a lifetime. Kenny’s family had come over and all of our kids had lined up in the front yard and made a paper-link-chain for us to cross. Rena, our 2nd grader, had even made a picture for me of a trophy and written “#1” on it. Joanie had made an awesome celebratory breakfast of champions that included: Bagels, lox, cream cheese, scrambled eggs, whole wheat pancakes and coffee. I mostly drank and had a bagel later in the afternoon.

After resting for some of the day, we all drove to Six Flags, since the kids didn’t have school on Memorial Day, and hung out for the evening. Kenny and I (along with all the kids) ended up being picked to be part of the Glow in the Dark parade. It was a great way to end perfect day.

I biked a total of 45 miles (I tied with only one other person for the the longest distance biked) and my sponsorship totaled about $3,000.00, which was the highest amount raised in Chai Lifeline’s Bike the Drive history…thanks to the you.

As I had previously written, I dedicated this year’s ride to the memory of my father, Al Harris a"h, who passed away in early November. He not only sponsored me, but was always amazed by my commitment to Biking the Drive and was very proud of my efforts both in terms of biking and also in attempting to help an important organization like Chai Lifeline. I know he would have been very proud of what was accomplished on Sunday.

My wife and kids made it all worth while.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Final update before Bike the Drive

Tonight it was 61 degrees and beautiful.  The weather for my last training ride before Sunday was stellar.
I did 13 miles on McCormick Ave (Devon to Green Bay and back) with my friend and then 2 more miles around West Rogers Park (my hood). 

I was able to listen to a real thought provoking shiur given by Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky and based on Rav Wolbe's sefer "Alei Shur".  The shiur was about kavod or respect and how that is the way we ascribe value to things that are non-material.  We show kavod to individuals, the Torah and to ourselves (in fact, one is exempts himself from being an witness before a beis din if he lacks kavod from himself).  The shiur also discussed the importance of what we put value on.  I found this very important, since my own children are very aware of what I spend my time doing and what I enjoy.  For example, they all know that "Abba loves iced coffee."

I also found myself as I was riding appreciating the time just to unwind and clear my head.  After the initial 13 miles I "cooled down" with a slow 2 mile ride around my neighborhood.  Since I'm not listing to any music, I found myself singing a Husker Du song and also the Cracow Niggun.
Time to get something to eat.  I can't wait until Sunday morning!!!!

Interested in sponsoring me?  It's not too late, just click here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Biking Update # 7

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Oy! Tonight was a real bike ride.  It was well worth it though.  I ended up biking just over 13 miles in a little over an hour.  This ride was a bit more difficult than the one last night.  Tonight I was biking with my friend, and the guy who convinced me to Bike the Drive, Kenny.  He's fast, well, faster than me.  It ached to attempt to keep up with him, but in a good way.   In general, when biking by yourself, you can only push yourself so far, since you have nothing to measure yourself with.  When biking with someone else there's that internal push to "keep up".

Another problem was that the lecture I was listening to, "The Kelm Talmud Torah" by R Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff got cut off right in the middle of my ride, thus leaving me (again like last night) with silence in my earphones.  I think it's time to retire my mp3 player.

Tonight we biked all the way to Green Bay Road.  The weather was great, but breezy.  All in all, an excellent ride.  Only a few more days left...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Biking Update # 6

Last night I posted on Facebook:

Just got back from a 10 mile ride. Great weather, but right in the middle of an "Alei Shur" shiur my mp3 player died. For the last 3 miles I found myself singing "V'lee Yerushalayim" by Dveykus and for some reason Greg Graffin's solo version of "Cease" (which would have been an awesome song to have played during the ending credits of the last Lost episode).

What I didn't write about was how, aside from the Howard bridge, everything smelled great.  There is nothing like smelling honeysuckle!
I biked from about 11pm until 11:45pm.  Surprisingly there were a few people biking, as well.

Without anything to listen to, I guess my mind started roaming around and that's why I ended up with those two very different songs in my head (although they sort of paint a fairly accurate picture of me).