Buffalo Grove man makes videos to motivate others to get out in nature
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a toddler, David Goldman has battled an array of significant health issues over the years. The longtime Buffalo Grove resident points to two things that have helped get him get through chronic illness: his bicycle and the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway (DPRT).
Shortly after undergoing his first kidney transplant 34 years ago, Goldman won a bike at a company picnic and started riding the DPRT.
"I found that I really enjoyed biking and being outside in nature," he said.
Many years later, his cycling was forced to come to a stop while he underwent a pancreas transplant, experienced heart problems and impaired vision.
"The drugs were taking a toll on me and I had to stop riding," he said. "I missed it."
About seven years ago he had a second kidney transplant and heart surgery and began to feel healthier. He recaptured the urge to return to the trails. He was given a recumbent trike, which sits low to the ground with two wheels in front and one in the back.
"There's no balance involved, but there was a learning curve to get used to the new way of riding," he said. "Riding really helped me recuperate."
Living about a mile from the DPRT, Goldman now goes out three to five times a week, tracking 10 to 30 miles each outing.
"I have ridden about 13,000 miles on the DPRT since 2013," he said. "It's a beautiful, scenic trail that is so well maintained."
The 31.4-mile DPRT is one of the crown jewels of the Lake County Forest Preserve system, connecting to neighboring trails, forest preserves, residential areas, parks, schools and business districts. The trail spans nearly the entire length of Lake County as it winds through 12 forest preserves.
In the mid-1970s, the vision for the regional trail began to crystallize. Over the next three decades it grew section by section until its completion in 2015.
"The last section of the trail to open in Lincolnshire is my favorite part of the system," said Goldman, who turns 65 in mid-October.
He says that every time he is out, he discovers something new. "There's one part of my route where I feel enveloped in trees and tall grasses."
The avid cyclist believes that riding and nature improve the psychological aspects of living with chronic health issues.
"It's so peaceful and relaxing; great for clearing your head. I feel so refreshed after a ride," he said.
Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves, agrees with the philosophy.
"Forest preserves are ideal fitness, recreation and relaxation destinations, helping to reduce stress and increase optimism. They play an important role in our general physical and mental wellness."
Goldman, who works part time as a web designer, describes himself as "fortunate." His mission now is to share the positive mental and physical aspects that he has gained through cycling and nature.
He is creating a video series titled "David Rides a Trike" as a way to offer motivation to others. In the segments, he records himself speaking while riding his recumbent trike. Part of the videos are set to music and show beautiful scenes along the DPRT. The videos can be found on his YouTube channel (bit.ly/triker) and on his website (www.davidridesatrike.com).
"I want to spread the word and give motivation to people suffering with chronic illness or other health issues," he said. "I encourage people to get outside and walk or ride so they don't think so much about what ails them."
Each 6- to 10-minute video covers a different topic. A recent segment gives tips about riding in the heat, and another gives a bit of history of the DPRT. It's all about getting outdoors.
"As soon as you get on the trail and start riding, you feel better. It sets you up for the rest of the day," he said. "Cycling has helped me heal and helped me adapt to a seemingly ever-changing normal."
People who have viewed Goldman's videos have left positive messages on his YouTube channel.
"I love your positive messages, David," one person wrote. "Thank you, David, for your video. ... Your message was helpful to me. I, too, have had problems with my health and still have many issues."
One viewer said the videos inspired her to ride 36 miles that week.
Research shows spending time outdoors in nature provides great benefits for your physical, physiological, mental and emotional wellness, said Nan Buckardt, director of education at the Lake County Forest Preserves.
"Time in nature has an overall positive effect on your body, mind and spirit -- sometimes for days."
Buckardt said that some of the first substantial research on this topic was conducted here in Illinois by Dr. Frances (Ming) Kuo at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work shows that green space reduces ADHD symptoms, promotes better brain function and boosts the immune system.
Buckardt, like Goldman, discovered these health benefits before this research was conducted and reported.
"I came to the self-reckoning that the time I spent outdoors on the weekends was directly related, in a positive way, to the ease of my workweek," Buckardt said. "I was more focused and productive while experiencing fewer frustrations. There are so many benefits of being outside in natural settings."
Goldman says his wife of 37 years enjoys walking and gains health benefits that way.
An incentive to begin a walking journey while discovering the forest preserve trails is the Hike Lake County program that is taking place now.
Participants are encouraged to complete seven of 12 designated walks by Nov. 30 to earn a free zipper pull or a commemorative shield for their walking stick. At each preserve, look for Hike Lake County logo signs at the trailhead to get started on the route.
Visit the website (www.LCFPD.org/HLC) to download the travel log and find additional details.
"The hikes are short and participants can go at their own pace," Buckardt said. "The program, which has been taking place for more than 25 years, allows you to take time to reset your mental health and get exercise."
• Kim Mikus is a communications specialist for the Lake County Forest Preserves. She writes a bimonthly column about various aspects of the preserves. Contact her with ideas or questions at kmikuscroke@LCFPD.org. Connect with the Lake County Forest Preserves on social media @LCFPD.