On this morning, he rose at 3:30 a.m. By 4, Randall Yust was on the road, headed out on a 30-mile bike ride.
This is exercise. It’s athleticism. It’s a cardio workout. It’s sweat.
But really – the reason Yust is navigating these open roads while the rest of the world is sleeping -- is the beauty.
The fragrant flowers and hovering trees. The birds, each one singing its own special song. His senses are bombarded.
And then, there are the sunrises. There is nothing more full of promise. And Yust gets to take those sunrises in with no filter on these mornings atop his bike.
“The sunrises are nothing short of breathtaking and you are not only seeing the sun rise, you are embedded in it,” says Yust, 63, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of IU Health North Hospital. “You are a participant.”
For three decades, Yust has been soaking in the beauty of biking. He’s the sport’s biggest advocate. He heads up a Saturday morning cycling group that takes off from his hospital at 6 a.m. each week, a gathering of biking, breakfast and camaraderie.
The group – which has been 12 years in the making – is an eclectic one. It’s made up of dozens of cyclers ranging in age from early 30s to early 60s.
A commercial airline pilot, a surgeon, the owner of a CPA firm, a research scientist at Eli Lilly and Co., a former national level swimmer at the University of Illinois, an IT security worker from Simon Property Group, several school teachers and the president of an international fraternity.
The group also includes a few of Yust’s fellow IU Health employees -- Bill Hilgendorf, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the bariatric program; Tina Childress-Brown, a nurse at Beltway Surgery Center; and Michael Yost, vice president of marketing, outreach and experience at IU Health.
Yost loves the exercise – sometimes those Saturday morning rides go more than 100 miles. He likes the great friendships that are built.
“There is a great camaraderie among the regulars and, sometimes, even just a little competition on the road,” Yost says.
He credits Yust for being a tremendous ride leader.
“He does a great job of keeping us all together,” Yost says. “But I must admit that his job can be like herding cats at times.”
Yust laughs. He knows just what Yost is talking about.
“There are a couple of segments that are flat and fast and several of our cyclists are overcome by a spirit of enthusiasm,” Yust says. “Consequently, a robust sprint ensues.”
Yust is animated as he talks about his biking group. It’s his pride and joy. But he hasn’t always cycled. It’s a love he found accidentally, nearly three decades ago.
Cycle of Love
Yust snapped his Achilles tendon playing volleyball at 35 years old. Part of his rehab was to run. And he liked it.
He made friends with runners, people at his work who ran. He formed a running group – much like the cycling group he started here.
One thing led to another and that group decided running wasn’t enough. They should try some triathlons – and triathlons meant swimming and biking.
“I found out I liked biking even better than running,” Yust says. He actually loved biking.
So for nearly three decades, he has been biking. As he raised a family of two boys, Craig and Collin, with his wife, Karen, he has been biking. As he welcomed his three grandchildren into the world, two 4-year-old granddaughters and a 1-year-old grandson, he has been biking
He’s been running, too. Yust’s typical weekly schedule looks like this: biking Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings and running Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings. He mixes in three or four days of strength training, lifting weight in the evenings.
On this morning, the 3:30 a.m. morning, he rode 29 miles before arriving to work just after 6 a.m.
It’s a fabulous way to start a workday, Yust says, a fabulous way to start any day -- with all that beauty.
The Saturday Morning Ride
The ride begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings, with the group keeping a pace of 17 to 21 miles per hour, an average of about 18. The basic ride is 30 miles from IU Health North Hospital to a restaurant for breakfast, followed by a 20-mile loop back to the hospital.
That’s 50 miles in before 9:45 a.m. Some bikers ride additional miles before the 6 a.m. start and some continue on to get more miles after.
The start time seems early to outsiders, Yust says, but that early time is for a very important reason.
“Cycling on public roads is inherently dangerous so we attempt to mitigate as much risk as possible,” he says. “There is virtually no automobile traffic and we are mostly on county roads on which there is very little traffic and where you can see for long distances.”
What Yust loves most about the Saturday morning ride is the camaraderie.
“We look after each other and are aware of where everyone is at any time, even if we get split up,” he says. “We stop to help change flats or fix other mechanical issues. The conversation during the ride and especially at breakfast can be very insightful and occasionally hilarious.”
And each Saturday after finishing the ride?
“I find myself looking forward to the next one and seeing my friends again,” Yust says. “I think about it a lot during the course of my week and it always makes me feel good.”
For more information on the Saturday Morning Ride, contact Yust at email@example.com.