ExCom Member Spotlight & a Rookie Ride Leader Award Winner – David Helms!


David Helms (Member-at-Large) – Growing up, David says “I was always on a bike. The thrill of riding without training wheels was the first of many I would enjoy throughout my career on two wheels. The first purchase from my summer dish washing job in 1978 was a Motobecane Mirage, a very beautiful bike. I bravely rode the Mirage from Portsmouth (my home) to the Newport, RI, beaches on a whim ignoring the treacherous traffic, (never told my mom!); loved my first long ride, and was hooked!”

After a retirement from the Air Force, enter mid-life where biking had taken a back seat, David found himself in need of some positive changes. ” I thought about my past, what made me happy. I set about rehabbing my old friend, the Mirage: new paint, wheel set, and tires, fresh grease for the internals. The project was a success. I started riding, first just a few miles, then a couple more, slowly building strength. Eventually, I searched for people to ride with, and found the Potomac Pedalers.” David started riding with the Club in 2009 “as a C/D rider, at a weight near 300 lbs. My story mirrors Greg Gibson’s.  As I shed weight, I gained skill and confidence, and rode with other alphabet classes.”

David decided to get more involved with the Club when Karen Berlage was pleading for ride leader contributions. “I answered her call, wanting to give back what I received.” Speaking of what Potomac Pedalers has given to him and why he wanted to join the ExCom David says, “I am truly grateful to PPTC and the wonderful people who keep it rolling. I have learned and drawn inspiration from the Club’s members; to name a few: Greg Gibson’s healthy lifestyle journey, Jim Sherman’s mobile mechanic skills, Jim Quinn’s mastery of route planning, Tim Guilford’s grit and determination, Davey Hearn’s grace and power, and group leadership from Rudi Riet and Mariette Vanderzon. Going forward, I hope to support PPTC in any way possible.”

As for the Rookie Ride Leader Award, David was surprised to have won and grateful to be recognized. As a new ride leader, he didn’t even know the award existed and says, “I think, by the award narrative, I may have to nuance my verbal hazard call-outs.”

David enjoys our areas incredible access to great riding and has many favorite riding areas. “I love The Plains, Laytonsville, Loudoun gravel, Montgomery Ag District, Skyline, Catoctin, Gettysburg, Antietam, DC, it’s monuments, it’s diverse neighborhoods and landscape, and the region’s extensive trails. It’s all good! We live in a beautiful region that begs for exploration. We are so blessed!”

As for a favorite memory of riding with the Club, David says, “Group riding on the Downtown Breakaway when the paceline is in perfect sync is special, but I also find climbing Middle Point, just me pushing against the mountain, is also an enduring memory.”

On slate for this year is “Rough Roubaix, MoM, Garrett, lots of climbing early on, then  I’ll play in the dirt thereafter.” Other than that, “having fun and being safe. That’s enough.”

“In closing,” David says, “I want to thank my wife, Jenifer, for her support of my hobby and all the time I spend pursuing it.”

Congratulations on the award and welcome aboard the ExCom, David!


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