The first year that Pelotonia came to Kenyon, Chris Shea ’87 took to the Facebook page of a group of alumni from the 1980s to spread the news.
“I sort of floated it on that page,” said Shea, a Columbus, Ohio, lawyer. There was, he said, a “pretty instant, positive response that it was a pretty good idea to form the peloton.”
And, thus, “Chasing Philander” was born.
Coined by John Platt ’88, the peloton — named after, of course, College founder Philander Chase — consists of a group of alumni who graduated from Kenyon in the 1980s, though it’s open to other riders.
“For us, it’s about the ride. But it’s also about the K-80s thing, and it’s also about being in Gambier,” Platt said. “K-80s” is shorthand for the 1980s alumni Facebook page.
Platt and four other riders will cruise into Gambier on Saturday, August 9, for Pelotonia, the long-distance bike ride and cancer-research fundraiser, which has set its 75- and 100-mile finish lines at Kenyon since 2012.
“We’re so excited to be back, and it feels like home to us,” Kelley Griesmer, Pelotonia’s chief operating officer, said. “It’s everything we could have ever wished for and more.”
Pelotonia will come to Kenyon next year as well, and Griesmer said Pelotonia has “already started some talks about how we can continue the relationship, assuming everything continues to go well.” Working out scheduling is the biggest hurdle, but Kenyon Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said he is hopeful that Pelotonia will be coming to Kenyon for years to come.
For the first three years after its founding in 2009, Pelotonia riders headed to Ohio University in Athens. Scheduling problems made Ohio University impractical as a venue. And because residence halls were needed for overnight riders, the first-day finish point had to be in a college town.
“While there are a lot of colleges in Ohio, Kenyon was pretty top of our list.” Griesmer said. “We pretty much signed on the dotted line.”
President Sean Decatur heralded the partnership between the College and Pelotonia as another important way to bring the community together. “I think it’s been a great relationship for us,” Decatur said. “It’s an important regional event, and it’s really wonderful that Kenyon can play a role behind such a good cause.”
And as for those Chasing Philanderers?
“I’ll keep riding as long as it goes to Kenyon,” said Platt, an elementary school teacher, who is making the trip up from where he lives in Kentucky.
Decatur said it was nice to see how many alumni are planning to ride this year. “There are alums who are coming from out of town to ride in this event and participate in the celebration up here on the Hill, which is great,” he said. “I think all of that is great for Kenyon, and it’s certainly great for the fight against cancer.”