Doris and Jan at the Brat tent

As I See It: Doris Gierlach Shares the 3M’s Behind the Upcoming Ride for 3 Reasons


Doris and her son, Jan Gierlach, support the Rock the Ride fundraising event at the Barrington Brat Tent. Jan represents the next generation of Bob Lee’s legacy solo cross-country bike rides to benefit Cancer, ALS and Hospice. Jan is preparing to travel from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida on a bicycle in February 2017.

When our son, Jan, told my husband I he wanted to graduate from high school a semester early to ride his bike across America we didn’t say no. We asked how he was going to achieve this. In particular we asked him: How are you going to graduate early and meet college requirements? How will you raise funds for this ride? How will you manage your time between school, college visits, work, the charities and train for the ride?

I knew the ride was meaningful to Jan. He had thought through all the logistics of his plan and asked for our support. Meaning is the first of our three M’s. The 3M’s are not so much a philosophy or a formula as they are an observation my husband, Ed, and I have made as we watched our four children and their peers grow up. When children are young you expose them to many things and watch to see what clicks. They start to invest time in it. They own the experience, whatever it is.

We saw that Jan was motivated when he acted upon all that was required of him. I believe motivation is intrinsic. It doesn’t come through external incentives. Perseverance and a sense of accomplishment are gained by experiencing the “grit” in life. Motivation is the second M. It requires commitment. Recognition may feel good after the goal is accomplished, but during the struggle it is you and your will to achieve that gets you through.

Doris Gierlach - 2

Ed and I are cyclists but we have never made a long distance bike ride. We suggested Jan talk with someone who had. That is how he began a discussion with Bob Lee. Bob began the Ride for 3 Reasons years ago to raise money for Hospice, ALS and Cancer research. He has successfully completed three cross-country solo bike rides. Bob is a mentor to Jan in so many ways. He shares his passion and his desire to make a difference with Jan. Mentors is the third of our 3Ms. A mentor is someone who has walked the path before you and can give you guidance and perspective. I am so thankful to the mentors who have helped my children.

Jan will get on his bike in February 2017 but his journey began this past spring. He has stepped out of his comfort zone by talking with people in the media. He’s connecting with different members of our community.

People ask if I am worried about Jan crossing the country alone on a bicycle. I don’t think it’s fair to project my fear onto my kids. I ask questions and to the degree possible help them plan for the what-ifs. Situations and circumstances will present themselves. In those moments, I pray for guidance and fill my mind with hope.

I look for the good and possible growth that will come from Jan’s ride. I have learned to trust my maternal intuition. When you give your young adult the ability to own their decisions and all that goes with it, it is amazing how quickly they grow up.


To learn more follow Jan’s Ride for 3 Reasons blog at RideFor3Reasons.org.

As I See It expresses the opinion or point of view of a Barrington area resident on a topic that they care about and are knowledgeable on. Through a personal interview, writer Mary Klest compiles the narrative for 365Barrington.

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