When His Life Took a Turn Jordan Bergeman Became the Motor and His Son Jeffrey Was the Motivation

This Zwifter turns to his virtual cycling community for the support and encouragement needed to achieve his son’s goal of competing in IRONMAN Wisconsin and the Boston Marathon.

Life is a lot of things.  For the glass-half-full types, it is rosy and blessed.  The glass-half-empty crowd sees the challenges of life through a different lens.  It is never the same for anyone.  

There is one aspect that is, however.  Life is constantly changing whether we want it to or not.  The motivations that drive us to evolve vary with the irony of our existence.   

The twists and turns lead us on a journey into the unanticipated, and we find motivation in places we never cared to look.  Or could have ever thought we would need to.  Or want to, for that matter.

Jordan pulling his son on a bike

The Answer is Easy for Jordan

When you ask Jordan Bergeman about what motivates him, the answer is easy “Jeffrey.”  Jordan is a network engineer from west-central Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife Jess and their three children. Jeffrey is one of their children.

Jordan describes the day when his motivation began the journey down an unforeseen path.” When Jeffrey was 22-months old, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, which took approximately 20 minutes to get fully stabilized.”  The vibrant and “typical” young boy was without adequate oxygen to his brain.

Jeffrey suffered traumatic global brain damage and was subsequently diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

Jordan's son Jeffrey

Fear, Terror, and Helplessness

“Fear, terror, and helpless” is how Jordan describes his feelings, and “On that day, we had no idea if Jeffrey would even make it to the next hour.”  Their son spent nine days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), attached to a ventilator and unable to breathe independently.  

 

As the days went on, he got stronger, but the future was unclear.  Jeffrey was wheelchair-bound, non-verbal, and dependent on those around him.  “Our view was to take it a day at a time and just survive” is how Jordan describes how he and Jess approached life going forward.

 

The first few months were difficult for Jordan and Jess.  “He was stone silent and expressionless, or he was screaming at the top of his lungs, and there was nothing we could do to help him. Even holding him and trying to console him only made it worse, as it would cause too much stimulus to his system.”  Life was challenging, but Jordan and Jess hung in and took it day by day.

Jordan pushing his son while running

The Future Was Unclear But Their Determination Was Focused

Jordan and Jess worked hard to help Jeffrey live his best life.  That meant including him in activities and exposing him to experiences a boy of his age would enjoy.  “Around 2015, my wife decided to take Jeffrey out for a run and discovered that he absolutely loved it,” Jordan recalls the day that changed his family forever.  

Jess pushing son Jeffrey while running

Jess became a “crazy runner,” according to Jordan, who at the time believed all runners were “crazy.” Jess and Jeffrey had their minds set on running a marathon, which was fine for Jordan as long as he didn’t have to run.

The last time Jordan participated in any physical activity was in high school, and he had become, according to his admission, overweight and lazy. Jordan’s wife was persistent and eventually convinced him to sign up to run a 5K with Jeffrey on October 1, 2016.

Jordan pointing to the sky while pushing Jeffrey during a marathon

You’re Crazy If You Think I Will Ever Run

Jordan began training in early September, ran the 5K with Jeffrey on October 1, and went on to do a half-marathon on October 15.  Jess and Jeffrey achieved their goal by completing the Marine Corp Marathon on October 29.  While there, Jordan bumped into a friend who was attempting to become a “marathon maniac.”

 

A “marathon maniac” is a runner who completes two marathons within 16 days.  Jordan’s friend was going to accomplish the feat by participating in the Richmond Marathon two weeks later.  Jordan thought, “How cool would it be if Jeffrey became a marathon maniac at the same time?”

 

Jordan asked Jeffrey, and the answer was “an immediate and emphatic, Yes!”  Jordan and Jess developed a yes-no system of non-verbal communication with Jeffrey.  “When he turns his head to the left, it’s a “yes,” and to his right is “no,” explains Jordan.  Jeffrey turned his head left as far as it would go.

Jordan preparing to ride a triathlon with his son Jeffrey

Overweight and Lazy to Marathon Maniac in Two Months

Jordan had never run more than 13 miles but figured he could probably finish the course before the time cut-off.  Jordan recalls his decision-making process when stating, “it would be painful, I’d hate it, but I probably wouldn’t die!”  Jordan woke up early the next day and ran 18 miles to see if he could.  He did and signed up for the Richmond Marathon in two weeks.

 

“I was able to run my first marathon with less than two months of training because it wasn’t for me. It was for Jeffrey.”  The father-son team completed their first marathon together in 4:17:16, and sure enough, Jordan didn’t die.

 

Jeffrey and Jordan have gone on to complete 16 marathons and a 50-mile ultramarathon together.  The team posted their personal best time of 2:54:17 on September 16 of 2021.  A time good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon – a goal for Jeffrey.

Jordan exhausted after pushing Jeffrey duirng a marathon

His Son’s IRONMAN Goal Got Jordan Into Cycling

Also on Jeffrey’s shortlist of goals is completing the IRONMAN Wisconsin.  “That is what got me into cycling,” Jordan notes fortuitously.  The team has completed several Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and three half-IRONMAN distance races.  “We did two of those half IMs in a 15 day timeframe, with our best time being 6:47:54,” states Jordan.  

 

Jordan and Jeffrey competed in the first-ever competitive duo team division at the USAT Age Group National Championship in 2021.  The father-son team placed second by a narrow seven-second margin after making up a 7-minute deficit after the swim leg of the sprint-distance event.

Jordan carrying his son out of water during a triathlon

Jordan Gets Into Virtual Cycling By Chance

Jordan got into virtual cycling in March 2020 after winning a trainer at a fundraising event.  “I got sucked in pretty quickly by the challenge,” notes Jordan, who logged over 5,000 miles in the first two months.  

The competition hooked Jordan, but the relationships he formed in the Zwift community are why he now does most of his training indoors.

Jordans indoor cycling space

“I am a very social person,” says Jordan, “so to be able to have the community aspect of indoor riding and the competitive side with virtual racing, it ticks a lot of boxes.”  Jordan races for KRT (KISS Racing Team) and participates in and sweeps several weekly group rides, like KAB and the DIRT XLR.  Find Jordan’s ZwiftPower profile here.

Jordan Bergemans Zwift avatar

It adds up to an average of 400 miles and 16 hours a week on the trainer.  Find Jordan’s Strava profile here.  Jordan admits that he wouldn’t be able to train as much without the convenience of virtual cycling.  “Virtual cycling helped me keep my sanity and fitness through 2020 and into 2021,” confirms Jordan.

Jordan pulling son Jeffrey in raft while swimming in a triathlon

With Virtual Cycling Jordan Will Always Be Ready For What’s Next

With the help of virtual cycling, Jordan is prepared to do whatever Jeffrey may dream up next.  “It allows me to be able to help Jeffrey fulfill his dreams and goals for endurance events and shows my kids that when we work hard at something,”  Jordan notes with satisfaction, “it pays off.”

 

Not everything has come easily, but that hasn’t stopped Jordan, who keeps going for Jeffrey.  During an Olympic distance triathlon, the rope that attaches the duo during the swim leg had shifted from Jordan’s back to his hip, making it very difficult.  As Jordan exited the water, he was exhausted and wanted to go home, but he didn’t.

 

When he turned to pull the raft out of the water, he saw Jeffrey grinning ear to ear.  “He was in his element and loving it, so I sucked it up, and we went out and finished the race,” notes Jordan.  Jordan credits his son for encouraging him to push through and accomplish things he never thought possible.

Jeffrey and Jordan are Blazing a Trail

Jordan is proud of Jeffrey for refusing to let boundaries hold him back.  “Jeffrey blazes a trail for others,” beams Jordan.  Several of the endurance events the pair have competed in did not allow duo racing before their participation.  

 

Jeffrey’s motivating qualities also helped the team of people involved achieve his goal of participating in Ragnar, despite their doubts and apprehension.  “The team members were able to do it successfully and found that they were capable of more than they thought,” remembers Jordan.   Jeffrey united and encouraged his team to complete the most miles he had ever done in a single event, approximately 160-170 of the 200 miles.

Jordan pulling raft out of water

Conclusion - Greatest Achievements and Future Goals

Jordan considers Jeffrey’s ability to find joy when others might give up his most outstanding achievement.  “He projects hope in a world that needs it,” asserts Jordan, “and teaches us what is important in life.”  For Jordan, that is to care for one another and work together because “when we do, we can achieve anything.”  Jordan believes every finish line is his most significant achievement because “My son gets to cross the line before me, after dragging me through the course.”  

 

The Boston Marathon and IRONMAN Wisconsin have an age restriction of 18, so the pair will have to wait a couple of years for 15-year-old Jeffrey.  As for Jordan’s virtual cycling future, “Keep riding.  I would never have thought that I’d be leading, sweeping, or racing on a virtual platform, so who knows what the future might bring.”

 

Oh yeah!  Has Jordan’s opinion of runners changed?  Not exactly, he still thinks they are crazy, but he isn’t one of them.  “I’m not a runner,” quips Jordan, “Jeffrey is the runner, and I’m simply the motor.”  

Your Thoughts?

What motivates you to do the things you never thought possible?  Comment below.  Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.

 

For more great stories highlighting the extraordinary ordinary members of virtual cycling check out the Community page of The ZOM.

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