Tom Boonen is the first professional rider to sign a very special Specialized Tarmac frame that will be autographed by pros throughout the 2017 season before being auctioned off to create awareness around The Specialized Foundation.
The Specialized Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes cycling as a tool to improve the social, emotional, and physical well-being of schoolkids, particularly those with a learning difference like ADHD.
Determined to end his decorated 15-year career on a high at Paris-Roubaix this weekend, Boonen became the first pro rider to leave a lasting mark on this unique frame-set.
“It’s a nice project and I like that cycling has proven to be one of the best sports to help with this kind of issue,” said Boonen. “Kids will not only learn a discipline and rules, which are important in life, but also learn how to co-exist with their hyperactivity. I also support other projects involving kids. I am very attentive and sensitive to these kinds of activities and am always happy to help.”
It will take a mighty effort to win the Hell of the North on Sunday, but if he pulls it off, Boonen will catapult himself into history as the only man to have won this cobbled classic five times.
Just 20 champions have won Paris-Roubaix more than once: of those, 11 have managed to double up, seven have taken a hat-trick, and only Boonen and fellow Belgian Roger de Vlaeminck have won four.
With a fifth Paris-Roubaix title and one of the main goals of his career still beckoning, Boonen is both on the brink of history and in the last hours of his time as a professional bike rider. Victory would seal his reputation as one of the greats of his generation, both as an athlete and a team leader.
But as one journey full of triumph and emotion ends, another adventure begins. The Boonen-signed Tarmac frame will now travel to bike races around the world as it gathers the autographs of some of the biggest names in the sport.
The frameset’s journey forms part of the #RidingForFocus campaign run by The Specialized Foundation. Back in 2012, Specialized teamed up with RTSG Neuroscience Consultants to explore how aerobic exercise, specifically cycling, could become an integral part of a comprehensive therapy program for children with ADHD. The initial study measured the effects of cycling on the attention capacity of 47 students, aged 11 to 14, from two Massachusetts schools.
For one month, the participants rode outdoors for 30 minutes, five days a week, before school. The project examined cognitive, emotional and social changes, as well as balance and physical changes before, during, and after the program. The results were spectacular. They showed that after kids with ADHD started riding, the experience positively altered brain activity towards more ‘normalized’ brain patterns, increased attention span, boosted mood and, of course, improved fitness and BMI. Even better, it only took one ride to start seeing results.
Inspired by the success of the pilot project, Mike Sinyard, founder and CEO of Specialized, created The Specialized Foundation in 2014 to fund more research and to establish cycling programs at schools.
By signing the one-of-a-kind Tarmac frame, pro riders will now be able to show their support for using cycling to create a healthier future for kids. The auction date for the autographed frameset will be announced by The Specialized Foundation in the fall of 2017, at the end of the pro season. In the meantime, check out the #RidingForFocus journey on Facebook and other social media, and learn more about this charitable cause at www.specialized.com.