Cycling for health

Richmond resident Bill Porter can often be found biking the Tara and Greatwood neighborhoods as part of his daily health regime. On Sept. 15 he’ll be cycling in the annual Tour DaVita in South Carolina.

Bill Porter is at it again.

Porter, a Richmond cyclist, will be among the hundreds of participants returning to this month’s 7th Annual Tour DaVita, a popular three-day bike ride that raises funds for kidney disease research and awareness.

The 220-mile ride kicks off Sept. 14 (rides begin Sept. 15) in South Carolina and despite his own debilitating kidney health, Porter is ready to ride again.

A practical man, Porter, 74, said being a dialysis patient on a kidney transplant list isn’t an obstacle, nor does it worry him as the tour date nears.

“Why should I be worried?” asked Porter, who participated in the tour for the first time last year when it was held in Iowa.

“Being on dialysis isn’t a problem,” he said. “Actually, you feel better once you dialyze.”

Tour DaVita raises funds for the Kidney TRUST, which provides no-cost kidney screenings in non-medical settings.

The tour is divided into three days, with each day consisting of so many miles. On Sept. 15 participants will ride 60 miles; on Sept. 16 they will choose either an 80-or 100-mile route; and on Sept. 17 cyclists will ride another 60 miles.

Cycling has always been a fond pastime for Porter, who said as a younger man he used to cycle regularly and often participated in biking tours.

Even after marrying his wife Marcia, he kept up the biking tours, taking Marcia along. The duo has cycled through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and biked from the Grand Canyon to Mexico. In fact, most of their vacations included biking trips.

As he got older, though, Porter cut back on the time he spent on the bike, that is until about three years ago.

After losing a kidney in 2001 to cancer, Porter was told in 2011 that his second kidney was failing due to chronic kidney disease and was further instructed by his doctor to improve his physical health.

“I was told it was time to get off my butt and exercise,” said Porter with a hearty laugh. “I had my old bike in the garage so that’s what I did.”

“Every morning I try to ride 22 miles,” Porter said. “Another older man and myself ride every morning and once in a while on Saturdays we’re joined by an 80-year-old man.

“We call ourselves the Richmond Renal Riders,” he said with another contagious laugh. “It’s good exercise and good camaraderie.”

Porters adds that on Sundays, the dietician where he receives dialysis also joins the elderly bike riders. In fact, Sudi Erfanfar from the DaVita center in Richmond is joining Porter on the Tour DaVita.

“I’ve never ridden in South Carolina,” Porter said of this year’s tour. “I’ve done extensive riding in the West as a young man so I’d like to see an area that I’ve never seen before.”

Porter also notes that this year’s tour will be the largest he’s ever participated in. In his younger days, 80 riders was considered a large group. Last year when he rode in Tour DaVita, he was among more than 480 riders, and the word is this year’s tour has drawn even more participants.

Already Porter’s 1972 Schwinn Paramount bike has raked up 11,000 miles since May 2011, but Porter said he’s not training for tours, he’s cycling for his health.

“I enjoy riding,” he said. “I’ll be riding whether or not I’m going to be in a tour.”

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