Key Takeaways:

Mike Adsit is not your typical senior citizen. At 73 years old, he is a four-time 22-year cancer survivor, an organic farming and food specialist, a father, a grandfather, a bicycle coach, and a fitness instructor. But what sets him apart is his passion for endurance cycling, his championing of life and celebrating others, and his passion for competing in the National Senior Games.

Mike's journey to becoming an endurance cyclist is a remarkable one. In the 1980’s, he confirmed his love of cycling by commuting to work in New York City and riding in Central Park. After a serious but lucky crash incident with a cab in 1985 and moving to northeast Pennsylvania to start a construction business,  bicycling disappeared from Mike’s life. He started cycling again in 2000 as a way to stay active and healthy. due to stress from his construction work. 

In 2001, he hit his first setback. He was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent rigorous chemotherapy treatments that left him sick for weeks. 

“My treatments were every 3 weeks. I was sick for a week and then semi-sick, and then a week of rest for 6 cycles. At the time, I was running my company but wasn’t feeling well and could only work part of the day. Resting at home, Iended up watching the Tour de France. There was this athlete, Lance Armstrong, winning the Tour, and the announcers kept talking about him being a cancer survivor and how he almost died. It was an inspiring story.”

Inspired by Lance Armstrong's story of being a cancer survivor and an athlete, Mike volunteered for the Livestrong Foundation, raising money, and participating in many Livestrong cycling events, such as Ride for the Roses, Tour of Hope and Livestrong Challenge

“I had been on the local board for the American Cancer Society, which is about funding cancer research, but Livestrong was different. The Livestrong Foundation became the catalyst, a public recognition of the needed skills for surviving life with and after cancer treatment.. At the time, no one was talking about survivor skills to the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. Livestrong is about attitude, community, support, information, and knowledge.”

Following in the footsteps of Lance as an athlete resonated for Mike, so in the summer of 2003, he started to ride his bike and train for the 50-mile Livestrong Ride for the Roses  Ride in Austin, Texas, and raise money for Livestrong’s cancer support services.

Through his biking in 2002, he found a promotion for coaching services with Chris Carmichael, founder of Carmichael Training Services (CTS), a renowned cycling coach. He signed up for coaching with CTS, whose training helped give him the discipline and structure he needed to excel. This led him to compete in local races, and eventually, he qualified for the National Senior Games, where he found a community of like-minded athletes who share his passion for cycling. 

A Community for 50+ Athletes

“One of the challenges of 50+ age bicycle athletes is most local bike races, the events are geared towards a USA Cycling category system, and often there isn’t any specific racing for people over the age of 50.

His search for a competition venue space for older athletes is what originally led him to the National Senior Games. One limiting factor is that you have to qualify the year before in a State Senior Game competition. Mike qualified in 2006 and went to his first Senior games in Louisville in 2007.  

“It was so impressive. There were over 12,000 athletes there in 12+  sports, and it was so nice to see a community of like-minded people and to watch even 90-year-old cyclists ride and compete. Just being in a community of older athletes was different from normal competitions. They weren’t trying to edge me off the highway in competition. The Senior Games are competitive but at the same time community, and they are fun!” 

This 2023 National Senior Games is Mike’s fourth Senior Games, having already competed in 2007, 2011, and 2013. He qualified for the 2009 and 2015 Games but couldn't go due to business commitments and post-cancer health issues. 

“I would go to these different state and national Senior Games with the Livestrong bicycling uniform, and it was really amazing to see who spoke with me to ask about Livestrong or to talk about their child, spouse, friend that was dealing with cancer in their lives. It was nice to be able to give them encouragement and more information. I also became a link to how to get help and resources. Especially since I was always so motivated by the Livestrong message; UNITY IS STRENGTH; KNOWLEDGE IS POWER; ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING”

According to Mike, the Senior Games venues are different from other cycling events because they provide a sense of community for older athletes, incentivizing healthier lifestyles and fostering mutual encouragement among athletes rather than just being a cutthroat competition, though the competition is fierce.

Cancer Battle Again

Lymphoma came back again in 2004, and Mike started a different treatment using a new monoclonal antibody treatment. This quarterly treatment process was successful for 8 years. When he was strong enough, he continued to compete in events and the senior games. 

“In the 2011 National Senior Games, I was skilled enough to place in the top 10 and was training to be in the top 5 in the 2013 Games, but in 2012, a different type of lymphoma cancer surfaced. I had to then undergo a rigorous cycle of  in-hospital chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant.”

While cancer kept him from competing at times, it didn’t keep him away from the Senior Games. He inspired author Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who was interviewing him for her book  Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife, to become a competitive cyclist herself. He went on to coach her into competing in the 2013 and 2015 National Senior Games, where she placed in the top 10 in her age category. 

Celebrating Empowering New Beginnings and Accomplishing Goals

Through his participation in the Senior Games and the celebration of other athletes, Mike was selected to be a GetSetUp Athlete. Mike believes that GetSetUp can help seniors stay active and connected and feels particularly thrilled to live in the state of Michigan, where GetSetUp is available to all Michigan residents 60+, thanks to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Library of Michigan. 

"It's not just about learning, but it's also about getting seniors connected with people and making new friends," he said.

Mike's story is one of resilience, determination, and inspiration. Despite facing multiple health challenges and setbacks, including 2019 treatment for prostate cancer, and a 2021 triple heart bypass surgery, he has continued to pursue his passion for cycling and use it as a way to help others. 

Mike said, "You can always make a comeback. It's never too late to get back into shape and live your life to the fullest."

At this year’s 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh, Mike will compete in all four cycling events. 

Mike is grateful for all the family, partners, doctors, and friends that have been part of his 22-year cancer journey. Aaron, Colleen, Andrew, Jill, Debbie, Lauren, Norma, Mary, Kelli, Chris, Helen, Neil, Bohdan, Scott, Lance, Andrew, and many, many more unnamed. 

Thanks to GetSetUp’s statewide partnerships with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Library of Michigan, Mike and all Michiganders ages 60+ can enjoy GetSetUp classes at no additional charge. 

GetSetUp is sponsoring GetSetUp Athletes as an initiative designed to inspire and support older athletes by providing them with sponsorship and a platform to promote their passion for sports in order to empower their peers. GetSetUp Athletes are sponsored by GetSetUp, and each athlete will receive a $1000 stipend to help with their training and competition expenses, along with a full GetSetUp branded kit for their sport. These athletes will be sharing their journeys and insights with the GetSetUp community as they promote healthy and active lifestyles.

May 11, 2023
GetSetUp Athlete

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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