For many that are less athletically inclined, biking a 103-mile ‘century ride’ would take (what feels like) nothing short of a century to complete. But for Kennametal’s team — passionately driven by a worthy cause — it took under 6 hours.
On Feb. 8, 2014, Kennametal employees Lance Kammerer and Shon Marshall teamed up with customer Dirk Bentz from Bakersfield (Calif.) Machine to bike for local charities in the 16th Annual Tour de Palm Springs in Palm Desert, Calif. Since the Tour’s inception in 1999, it’s raised over $1 million for local nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley.
The Tour went around area streets and byways, passing through every community in the Valley. It transformed downtown Palm Springs into a sea of almost 9,000 enthusiastic bicyclists, and thousands more volunteers and family supporters. The weekend-long event was complete with vending booths, beer/wine gardens, and free live music — and even beautiful weather.
This year marked Lance’s eighth century ride for a good cause. Of those eight, he completed six rides with Dirk. The two teamed up after discovering one night over dinner that they shared a passion for biking.
They’ve finished three rides alongside (well, technically behind) Shon — the “rubber burner” of the group. The team says that Shon rides to win or to get a personal best, finishing this year’s Tour in the top 5%. Further reinforcing their running joke: “If you get lost, just follow the smell of burning rubber from Shon’s tires.”
Lance and Dirk completed the Tour in the top 40%. Lance “rides to finish,” with his personal motto being: “I’m not the slowest of our group, but I’m definitely the biggest.”
Dirk finished along with Lance in the top 40%. Although, Lance says that Dirk could finish in the top 20% if he wanted to, “it’s the people around him that make the ride special — he just hangs in there with us. “
The trio has become great friends and really came together as a team through their dedication to helping their community and ‘delivering the promise’ — by bike. Lance believes it has allowed a close bond to be kept between their two companies — “we are all in the same industry and have the same goals.”
Whether it is Tour de Palm Springs or just your standard ‘tour de office,’ Lance is proud to be apart of a company that supports a culture of health and wellness. “What I really like about Kennametal is that they put out challenges for us to stay fit. One day I walked into the Elko (Nev.) office and everyone was walking around with pedometers on. I laughed and said ‘go for it guys.’”
Lance never wastes any opportunity to train for his next big ride. As a traveling outside sales engineer, Lance is able to take his bike with him in the Kennametal truck on business trips. When in Bakersfield, he always makes sure to fit in a ride with Dirk.
“You should have seen my boss’s face when we met up in the field. He looked in the back of my truck and said ‘Wow, that’s a bike!’” Lance jokingly told him that he, of course, only brings it along so he can ride to safety if he has any car troubles.
The trio is currently gearing up for their next ride this September in the Amtrak Century, which goes from Irvine, CA, to downtown San Diego. They hope to have even more Kennametal and customer biking enthusiasts join them at future finish lines for a cause.
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