Pan Ohio 2009

The Pan Ohio Hope Ride 2009

 

“The Prelude”

This last week I participated in the Pan Ohio Hope Ride which is a bike ride that promotes and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, specifically for the Hope Lodges.  The Hope Lodges are places where folks and their families can stay for free while they are receiving treatment for cancer.  They are located throughout the country and, in Ohio, are located in Cleveland and Cincinnati.  The ride takes the rider between these two lodges starting in Cleveland.  For four days, you cover 328 miles with options for more miles culminating in Cincinnati.

As many of you know, I have been profoundly touched by the big “C”.  My mother died of the disease.  My mother-in-law is now afflicted with it. Many of my good friends have had close, personal experiences with the affliction.

I have been riding my bike for over 6 years now.  Much of the thanks for this goes to my late mother, who is the inspiration for my hobby.  I have been truly smitten by this hobby and hope to be a lifelong cyclist, as long as my body will hold out anyway.  To date, I have been in many long distance rides, some for charity, some for fun, but most of all, for me.

It was in early spring that I first saw the poster for this ride while shopping for bike stuff with my friend, Don, at a local bike shop.  I picked up the brochure for the event and took it home, meaning to look up the website as I was intrigued by the concept.  As I do with most things like that in my life, it sat and stewed in a pile on my desk for a couple of months.

During that time, I was training for TOSRV and other rides and I kind of forgot all about looking up the website.  It was just after my first failed attempt at TOSRV that I was back in the same bike shop and noticed that very same poster.

I did go home that night and found the literature on my desk about the ride and looked up the site and realized that I wanted to do this ride.  I sent e-mails to my friends,  Don and Jeff, who go on  most of the rides that I do with me.  I told them to look over the site and get back to me.  As you can imagine, they were less than enthusiastic about the idea.  The main hang-up being the fact that the ride asks participants to raise $2500 per rider in order to do the entire 4 day ride.  It is a little daunting to say the least.

But when did I ever listen to reason?

A week after my second failed attempt of the TOSRV ride, I was out riding with Don and after we completed the ride, we sat in his front yard with some very cold beverages and I tried to convince him to do the ride and as I was trying to convince him, I convinced myself.  (THANKS DON!!)  It was that afternoon that launched the now well known Cooking For A Cure which is well documented in the previous posts.  That alone was quite a ride and I am happy to say that we were able to raise enough money to let Jeff and I do the ride.  I could never convince Don to take the plunge this year, maybe next year.

So as you can see, this ride took fruition over4 months ago and last week, it took flight starting on the drive up to Cleveland with my wife, daughter and Jeff along.  Beth already told you what happened to her after they dropped Jeff and I off for the ride.  It is my turn to tell you what happened to us.  I can assure you, it is a story worth telling.  It is a long story and I will break it up over the next couple of days.  So be patient and I hope you enjoy the story.  To me, it is a hell of a tale.

Diane and Beth had just left and Jeff and I went up to our room.   We stowed our gear and were blown away by the accommodations.  It was better than any hotel that I ever stayed at.  We were at the  Case Western University dorms.  There were four private bedrooms, two baths and a full kitchen.  A far cry from my room at O.U. when I was at college.  After we stowed our gear, we were bused over the Cleveland Hope Lodge to have dinner and a welcoming party for all of the riders.  We had arrived a little late and when we got there the party was in full force with speeches being given.  Jeff and I crept to  the buffet table to have dinner and hoped to not interrupt the speakers.  We did and the speeches went on.  They were what you would expect, the usual, “Thanks for doing this” and “Thanks to so and so for that” and “This person or that team raised the most money”.  I really didn’t pay much attention.  My main focus was on getting a beer.  The talking finally ended and we headed back to the place where they were serving the drinks.  I was awe struck on how beautiful the landscaping was and how nice the lodge was.  The true meaning of the place hadn’t sunk in yet, but I still appreciated the effort that was spent on the aesthetics.

After we got our beers, we were standing off by ourselves just bull shitting when a small Asian woman approached me.  She touched me on the arm and spoke so softly to me that I had to ask her to start again so that I could hear her.

“I just wanted to thank you.  You are the reason that I hope I can continue to get the treatments that I need.”   The quote may not be exact, but pretty close.  I was a little taken aback and for one of the few times in my life I was unable to come up with something to say to her.  I was thinking that I should be thanking her and could not fathom why she should thank me.  She was the one with the battle.  I was only here for the ride.  I finally stammered that she should also thank Jeff.  She did, going right up to him and saying the exact same thing to him as she had to me.  She then started to turn and go on to someone else when I touched her shoulder and quickly spurted out, “Good luck to you and your battle.”    I suddenly felt so very small, even though I towered over this woman by more than a foot.  She just gave me a small smile and moved on throughout the crowd of riders.  I am guessing that she was delivering the very same message to each and every one of them.  It was to be only the first of many times this week that I was blown away by what we were really doing there.

It was then that Jeff gave me the next bomb shell.  He told me that his mom was suffering from the big “C” in the form of breast cancer and had actually stayed at the Cleveland Hope Lodge.

WOW…that also blew me away.  I stood dumbfounded and could only say, “Why did you not say something.”  I was also thinking, “Do you know how that info could have helped fundraising???  (Not the only time I had selfish thoughts)    He only shrugged his shoulders and said that they were a private family.  If you know Jeff, I am sure that you can visualize him saying this.  He was telling me this only because his parents were coming to Wooster the next night and he thought I should know.

True that!

We bused back to the dorms and were starting to get ready for the next day’s ride when the door opened and that is the first time we met Greg.  Now you have to understand that Jeff and I thought we were the only ones in this suite.  We were wrong, again.  Anyway, we met Greg and his wife, who was there to drop him off for the ride.  We exchanged pleasantries and he went to his room and Jeff and I collected our stuff and were headed to our rooms when our other roomy for the night came in.  I can’t remember his name, but he swiftly went about his way and I don’t think we ever talked to him for the rest of the ride.  We saw him, but he must be a story for our future as we did not have any further interaction with him other a polite head bob meaning, “I know you”

Jeff and I finished getting our act together and agreed to get up at 5:15 as we had to bike over to the Cancer Society in the morning.  They had run out room on the trucks to store our bikes there and asked us if we minded just riding over.  It was only a half mile.  We didn’t mind.  So we went to our rooms and I had too much nervous energy, as I always do the night before a ride, so I read a book until 11:30 before I finally turned off the light and spent a tossing and turning night.  Again, not unusual for me.

The alarm clock  would sound early, but that is the start of a new chapter…

 

Cleveland to Wooster  75.8 miles

The alarm sounded very early.  But it did not come from the clock.  It started about 5 am.  It was then that I was awaken to the sound of doors opening and closing.  It really isn’t fair to say that I was awaken, because I really wasn’t asleep.  I laid in my bed wondering what the ride was going to be like, not just for the day, but the entire ride.  I had the same worries I always do.  Will I bonk?  Will Sue Ann hold up?  Will Jeff leave me behind?  Will I leave Jeff behind?

 

As I contemplated these issues, the doors continued to open and close.  I knew it was of no use to try to go back to sleep, so I got up and started preparing for the day.  I stepped out into the hall only to greet Greg, who quickly told me that he had already packed up, took care of his bags and linens and told me to have a great ride.  I told him the same and Greg left the suite for places yet unknown.  Jeff was wondering about by now and we both quickly went about our business and got ourselves ready to ride.  We got our bikes and bags down to the street and was ready to go, except for one little detail.  How the hell were we going to get our bags to where they should be?  We had to ride our bikes to the Cancer Society building so there was no way could carry them.  It was then that the bus pulled up in front of the dorms.  Whew.  It took a little explaining to the driver that we needed him to take the bags over for us but once he understood our predicament, he was more than accommodating.  So with bags stowed on the bus, Jeff and I took off with the first pedals of the long ride.  It only took us a few moment to get to the start and we even beat the bus there by quite a few minutes.  The bus soon showed up and we got our bags and we were ready to go!

 

All of the riders were gathering at the parking lot of the Cancer Society.  It was amazing how many TV vans were there, getting footage for the Cleveland news and I think I was able to avoid all of the cameras.  It was seeming to take forever to get the ride started and I was getting very antsy.

 

After what seemed hours to me, although I am sure it was no more than 20 minutes, we were ready to go.  The Cleveland police were all around us and there were even two police officers on bikes to lead us through Downtown Cleveland.  Very cool.  We were in the middle of the pack as we started to go.  AT LAST!!

 

Riding in a pack can be very hard as you don’t really know what the other bikers are going to do.  So all attention is needed and you must ride aware at all times.  This start was no exception as there were riders darting in and out of others and slow riders were cramping some others and so on.  I was impressed that the police stopped traffic for us and we sailed into the downtown.  Very nice downtown, by the way.  Now the one thing that was very apparent to me was the fact that all of the commuters who were waiting on their buses were giving us very weird glances and offering stares of bewilderment.  Can’t say as I blame them as I know what they were thinking.  “What the hell are these nutty people doing?”  I was quietly chuckling to myself  as I thought this.

 

After we got through downtown, the police left us and we were truly on our way.  This meant that we had to stop for the red lights though.  I believe we were riding through Lakewood when we had to stop at a light.  It was then that a rider behind me commented on my jersey, which was the Pan Ohio Jersey that they had provided for us.  On the back of the jersey it reads, “  300 miles, 4 days, 2 lodges, 1 hope”  The rider said to me, “I thought this ride was 328 miles?  Why does your jersey say only 300?”  I replied in the Toph fashion that you are all used to and this with a smart ass remark.  “Well, I guess I am taking the wuss route.”  The rider nearly snorted in his laughter.  The light changed and we rode on.  About a mile or so later, we came to another red light and this rider was in front of me this time.  I noticed that he had the same jersey that I did and his said “300 miles” also.  I made notice of this to him and he again laughed saying, “Dammit, really?  Well, I guess I am on the same wuss route as you!”  I laughed as well.  This is where I met Ken.  I could tell I liked his style.

 

We left the street and turned into the Metro Park where we would spend the next 40 miles.  Beautiful.  I guess these parks surround the City of Cleveland.  To the natives, it is called “The Emerald Necklace.”  It is very aptly named as it was almost breath taking and very rider friendly as we zoomed through the park.

 

After we left the park and after we left the lunch stop, we were back on roads again.  We were traveling through Strongsville and Medina and the hills were becoming more plentiful.  It was then that we met Ken again and he began riding with us.  A little bit latter, we met up with Greg as well and he also joined our little posse.  We rode with them till the end at Wooster College.  Ken had made a fundraiser promise that he would ride 100 miles a day, so he needed to get in 25 more miles and off he went.  Greg had also made a fundraiser  promise.  He said that he would run 3 miles every day after the ride.  Off  he went.   Where do we find these nutty people?

 

No matter, Jeff’s parents were inbound to see us so we checked in and got cleaned up.  His parents met us and I can tell where Jeff gets his height from!  They are wonderful people and I was very glad to finally meet them.  At this same time.  Diane and Beth were still around as they were visiting a friend of Diane’s.  So they stopped by on their way home to get some stuff from me, like dirty clothes and the sleeping bag I wasn’t going to use and take them on home.

 

After both Diane and Beth and Jeff’s parents left, we went to the reception that was being held and went looking for some beer.  Having found that, we ran into Ken again.  He agreed to drink with us and after the reception, we ran into Greg again.  We all went to dinner together and had a really great time.  It was then decided that we would ride together the next day and would meet in the morning.  How cool was that.  We separated at that and went our own ways.

 

The next morning would dawn with rain, but that is another chapter…

 

Wooster to Westerville  98.5 miles

 

 

 

 

 

One of many hills…

The morning dawned very black.  Of course that was because it was still dark out when the alarm went off.  The alarm of course was Jeff turning on the room lights at 5:15 am.

“Why did you do that?  We could sleep another 15 minutes or so?”

“I thought you needed time to get ready.”  Well, let’s see, put in contacts, clothes and brush teeth, not in that order, yep, I need all the time I can get to do that.  No matter, I was up.

“What is it like outside?”

“Just sprinkling, I think the worst is over.”  Now before I go on, I must say that all of the weather reports that we had heard till that point indicated that the rain would end very early, so I believed him.

BWA HA HAHA HA HA…..

We went and got our bikes from the basement and put our luggage on the truck and went to breakfast.  Now in my luggage is all of my rain gear except the plastic baggies that I use to wrap my stuff up in to keep dry, like my phone and wallet.  And Jeff was right, it was only sprinkling as we walked our bikes up to the dining hall.

After a quick breakfast, we ran into Ken and Gregg again and we were all ready to ride.  As we got our to our bikes, we were introduced to Stephan, who had roomed with Gregg the night before and Tam, who had bunked with Ken.  They were both joining us on the ride as a group of six.  We did not know it yet, but the 6-pack riding team was just formed.

As we were getting the last second arrangements completed, the heavens opened up and it began to pour.  Not just a heavy downpour, I am talking Noah and the flood type rain.  Like the very smart folks that we are, we headed out anyway.  It took me exactly two seconds to become completely soaked.  We made it through campus and faced the first challenge of the day.  A 1.8 mile steep downhill.  Now you might be asking why a downhill would be a challenge for a biker.  Did I mention that it was raining?  Torrential type rain?  Well, it was and it made the downhill like a river.  So we were in fact, whitewater rafting downhill, on a bike.

We so smart.

It was probably one of the scariest moments I have ever had on a bike.  The rain was so hard in my face that I thought my contacts were going to get washed out of my eyes.  I thought for sure I would hydroplane on the bike so I had my breaks pressed hard all the way down the hill.  So hard that by the time I got to the bottom of the hill, my hands were cramping.  And there was a raging river just to the side of the road, so we had to stay in the middle of the road, despite the morning traffic.  All of this and we were not yet two miles into the ride.  We needs coffee?

As you guessed, we all survived.  The downhill turned into a huge uphill and I was for a few moments wondering why I ever took up cycling as a hobby.  (That thought occurs frequently)  I made it up the hill and then it turned into somewhat of a normal ride.  If you don’t count the rain and the up and downhill’s.

We were about 15 miles into the ride when we came to Holmes County Bike Path.  This meant no more hills for a while.  It also meant some other shit.  I mean that literally.  You see Holmes County is home to a very big population of Amish.  So the bike path was also a buggy path.  In the wisdom of the Holmes County folk, they decided to split the trail up by putting the bike path about 2 inches above the buggy path.  And then alternating the side of the paths.  So one section of the trail, the bike path was on the right, the next, on the left.  That meant if you got caught on the wrong side of the path, well, you had a two inch curb to get over to get on to the bike trail.  The buggy path was for buggies, of course.  Pulled by horses.  Horses shit.  A lot.  So the trail was covered in shit.  Did I mention it was raining?  So if you got caught on the buggy trail, and we all did at one time or another, you got covered in horse shit.  Very nice.

By the time we left the shitty trail, we were about 30 miles into the ride.  The rain had slackened considerably.  But it was there we were faced with another little twist that makes me believe that the guy who planned this ride has a warped sense of humor.  (I later met Dennis and confirmed my belief!)  What faced us was the steepest uphill I ever faced and it was .6 mile long.  That is a lot for those who are not used to being on a bike.  Now it is not Tour De France type mountains, but to me, harsh.

How steep was it?  Well, I am glad you asked.  Normally, when riding, no matter the terrain, you can always see a horizon ahead of you.  On this hill, all I could see ahead of me was the road.  It was like climbing a wall.  I know I have more girth than the average rider, so I climb much slower than most.  I had the bike in the lowest gear possible (called the granny gear).  Even then, I bet you could have walked faster than I was biking up that hill.  I was afraid to stand up on my bike to pedal for fear of falling over.  I kid you not.

I made it up.  Don’t know how, but I did and thankfully, the 6-pack waited for me.  I think they were catching their breath as well.  So with all of us stopped on top of that hill, known forever more as County Road 6, the support vehicle came upon us.  The driver rolled down his window and instead of giving us praise for making it up that damn hill, he just said, “You are not finished, a lot more hills to go!”

Bastard.  Just what I needed to hear.  But the rain was no more than a sprinkle by now and off we went and, by damn, he was right.  We faced hills for the next 15 miles.  But these hills, though steep, were of the rolling variety.  That means that you go downhill as often as you go up and you carry the speed of the downhill into the next uphill.  I also have to say at this point, the girth that makes it hard to go uphill, makes for a great downhill.  It is at these times that gravity is a wonderful thing.

By the time we arrived at the lunch stop in Danville, the worst of the hills were behind us.  The rain had also turned into a sunny sky and the rest of the day was very pleasant weather wise.  Now I was glad I didn’t have my rain gear.  Of course, I don’t think the rain gear would have helped anyway as the entire group was soaked from the rain, regardless of what you were wearing.  They were just a wee bit warmer when we stopped!

We made it through the rest of the ride without much incident.  The closer we got to Westerville, the more familiar the roads became.  By the time we got to Sunbury, it was like being at home.  That is because we were.  Jeff and I have ridden these roads often and it was nice to know what was coming as far as the roads were concerned.

After we arrived at the last stop, Otterbein, the ride was ,of course, over.  They had a guy with a hose, ready to wash the shit of the bikes.  I had also called Diane to come get us as there was no reason not to stay at home on this night.  She came and picked Jeff and I up to take us home.  It was going to be nice to sleep in our own beds and use our own bathrooms and drink our own beer and have all the comfort of our respective homes.  So we loaded up the car and bid farewell to our new friends, the six pack, with the promise that we would rejoin them at 7 am the next morning.  It was nice to be headed home after that kind of day.

We would meet the six pack early the next morning, but that is another chapter…

 

Westerville to Springfield 72.3 miles

 

It was supposed to be the “easy” day.  Like we haven’t heard that before.  As promised, Diane dropped Jeff and I off at Otterbein around 7 am only to find the fellows lined up and ready to go.  We were under the impression that we were leaving a hour later this day because of the shorter route.  But they had told everyone the night before that we could leave at the normal time (7 am).  Of course Jeff and I did not hear this because, well, we weren’t there.

No matter, the guys were willing to wait as we grabbed a quick breakfast and put our luggage on the truck and so on.  So we got started a little after 7:30.

It was a nice ride to begin with.  Traveling on well known roads, even though we had never been there with a bike before.  We winded through Worthington before heading to Dublin.  We had our first rest stop at the concrete cornfield of Dublin.  Boy, am I so proud of that.  So Jeff and I, being the hometown boys, had to endure the much deserved jokes about the corn cobs.  I think that if I were from out of town and saw these monstrosities, I too would make fun of the local boys.

It was at this rest stop that we learned a few things about our group.  One, Tam takes way too long to use the restroom. And two, these guys are very trusting.  I happened to pull out my tin of ginseng, which is a Chinese candy given to me by my good Chinese friend, and shared these with the guys in the group, and they all took some.  Now in normal circumstances, if a person I only knew for a couple of days gave me a strange looking white candy to eat, I may have to pass on that offering.  But these guys took it right up and passed in around.  Again we all were truly forming a group.

With that we took off and for the first time on the ride, we did a challenge route that added miles to the ride.  We did so to help ken reach his promised 100 miles a day goal.  At this time the winds were beginning to kick up so we knew it was going to get a little rough from here on out.  As we were leaving Dublin, we saw Scott and his bread truck go by and we waved at him.  He didn’t turn around to try run us over either.  I knew he liked bikers after all!  Actually, I was glad we saw him as this part of the ride I was riding for his granddaughter who is suffering from the big “C” as well and is only 5 months old.  To find out more of her story, click on the Scarlett Princess link in the link section on the right side of this page.

As we wound out of Dublin and got into the flats of Plain City, we were facing headwinds of over 10 mph.  So much for the easy day.  So after some conversation, we started a pace line and started sharing pulling the line.  This was important because for the first two days of the ride it was mostly Jeff, myself and sometimes Ken pulling the group.  Today, everyone had to help.  And they did and the miles just clicked away and the 6 pack was a flying wedge through the wind and in what seem after no time at all, we were pulling into Wittenberg University in Springfield.

The best part of the day happened after Ken finished his miles and we were all cleaned up and all had dinner.  We all headed into town to have some beers.  Of course we had to wait for Tam, but that was becoming normal.  As we were having some beers, we finally met Dennis, who is the inspiration behind the ride.  He joined us at our table and regaled us with many stories and insights.  A truly enjoyable evening.  We walked back to our dorm to get some sleep before the last and final ride day as a closer group and with the promises that the next year we would all form a team and help each other with the fundraising.  I was cool with that.

The next morning came way to early, as mornings usually do, but again, that is the beginning of the next chapter…

 

Springfield to Cincinnati  95.4 miles

 

The day started early.   As all of the days have started.  But for some reason, today felt a little different.  I felt a little more confident in the day.  On day three, I really did not know what to expect as it was all new territory for me.  I have never done any riding that went on for more than 2 days.  So to make it through day 3 was a big bonus.

It was also the last day.  That fact alone seemed to boost not only myself, but the entire 6-pack.  We agreed at breakfast to ride the second challenge route of the day and that would not only give us a break from the bike trails, it would also help Ken in his quest to do 400 mile in 4 days.  I believed us to be crazy, but I was overruled and we were pronounced only mildly disturbed.  A common affliction of must riders.

 

I am remiss that I did not tell a fact that happened on day 3.  That was the day that we all met Chuck.  I do not know why or how we met him, but he was riding with us and that fact alone was good enough for me.  So the 6 pack is really a 7-pack, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story.  I think that even if we were to end up having 700 members on our team, it would still be named the 6-pack.  It just seems to fit.

 

 

Springfield to Cincinnati  95.4 miles

 

The gang is all here

 

We all were ready to finish the ride.  We knew we had some challenges ahead of us, but who cared?   We were all tired, thrilled, euphoric, delirious and drained.  All at the same time.  We were about to do something that we had never dreamed about.  Ride across Ohio.   What an achievement.

Of course, we had to finish the day’s ride first.  Just a minor hiccup!  We all got going with Ken and Tam leading the way.  They thought they had ridden the route the night before while Ken was trying to get his miles in.  They were close.  Anyway, the ride was set up to be mostly on trails for the day.  Over 80 of the miles for the day was to be on the bike trails. This was good because as I mention before, we were tired and trails do not tax you too much.  We were going to do the challenge route and we did.  It was nice to get off the  trail for a while.  Even though this meant that there were more hills.  Some good, most not.  That is just what I think of climbing.  There was a great downhill though.  I reached 40 mph down that hill.  I could of  gone faster had I not braked.  I would have ran into some of the guys, so it was okay that I braked.

We did lose Gregg before the challenge route.  Again, I do not know why this happened.  I am not sure anyone does.  It was just the fact that he was no longer there and we went on.  We would meet him later though.

After we rejoined the bike route, an impressive thing happened.  As we were riding along, Tam approached me and said, “let’s do some cooking!”  At first, I didn’t know what the hell he was trying to say.  But I finally figured out that he wanted to take off and go very fast.  I was cool with that and we did take off. and we went very fast.  We were averaging at least 20 mph on the trail.  We soon left the rest of the group behind, traveling along at a very nice rate of speed.  I should explain at this moment, what bike trails are like.  They are normally good pavement, located on old train tracks converted into these paths so that there is never any harsh grade or slopes to them.  This means that you can travel at a better rate of speed than you could if you were on the open road.  Now that is all nice and all, but give me the road…please.  You see, the trail looks the same.  Always.  It can become very mind-numbing.  So I will trade the speed for scenery.

However, it worked for this day as we did the challenge route and now, Tam and I were “cooking it.”  This led me to one of the things that really impressed me on this day.  That is the fact that Ken caught us.  I do not know how far he was behind us to start with, but he had to be traveling at least 25 mph in order to catch us.  But he did and we coasted into the lunch stop a little winded, but truly enjoying the moment.

It was then that we caught up to Gregg.  And he was enjoying lunch with some female companionship.  We all set down around Gregg and I think we truly embarrassed him with our male bravado.  I do not apologize for this.  I very happily took part in mocking Gregg.  This was just another sign that out 6-pack was really a group.  One does not make fun of a person he just met unless you are part of something.  And we were.

We all joined back up together and stayed together, except for Ken, who went to finish his miles, as we headed uphill to Hyde Park.  It was during this time that I was getting a little…okay maybe very… emotional.  I just told you that the trails could get very mind-numbing.  As we were cruising to the finish, I started thinking.  Always a bad thought.  I first thought of my mom.  I then thought of all the folks that I was biking for.  Ruth, Mom, Scarlett and Scott.  I also was thinking of the stories, and there were many, that I had heard during the fundraiser and the ride.  I was also delirious and tired.  The emotions of it all got the better of me and let’s just say that I was glad I was wearing sunglasses as I shed a tear or two during the final 10 miles of the ride leading into Hyde Park.

Okay, some of the tears were the uphill that faced us going into Hyde Park.  Let’s just say it was long and, well…uphill.  During this time, a car passed us and a women hung out of the window and yelled at us.  Normally, this is not a good thing.  But this time, she was yelling, “What are you riding for?”  “Cancer.”  I replied. She held out a thumbs up and then the car sped on its way.  Too cool.

They stopped us in Hyde Park so that we could all ride to the last hope lodge together.  There is something about 175 riders, headed for the same goal to bring your emotions out again.  We had done it.  342 miles.  4 days. 2 lodges. 1 hope.  Awesome.  With folks like these in the fight, how can we not find a cure for cancer.  From the riders to the volunteers to the organizers.  Nothing but the best.

I was on a extreme high.  I had done a very challenging event and survived.  I had raised money in the big fight.  I had made which I hope to be new, lifelong friends.  I had participated in the fight against cancer.  I was no longer a spectator.

Today, one week after the event, I am still psyched.  I don’t believe I have ever done such a great thing as I did last week.  I can only hope that next year when I do this ride again, I feel the same way.

So thanks to the folks that made this possible and to all of those why made it bearable.  Too numerous to mention.  Just know that you are in my prayers.

There are certain moments that stand out in your life.  They are the moments that you hope you will remember forever.  This event was one of those moments for me.  I hope I never forget this or this feeling.

 

Snippets

Okay, it really is time to put this story to bed, but before I do, I want to share some tidbits that just didn’t make it into the big story OR I forgot about it until after I already had posted the story.

Either way, it didn’t make the main story so this is like the director’s cut on a DVD.

Muck Fiami

Yes, I know it is an oldie but goodie but also very appropriate.  There were  2 of the 6-pack  from Miami University.  Now to an Ohio University Alum (No I didn’t graduate from there, no one does…), that is like making a OSU grad ride with Michigan people.  Ken and Stephan both attended Miami.  The only difference between the two is that Stephan still attends Miami.  It’s not too late to get out Stephan!

I am impressed these two could stay on their bikes at all!  You know, with all of the grace that resides in the Miami Valley and all…

Impressive

Chuck was riding a hybrid bike.  The rest were not.  Chuck had to work very hard to stay up with the other bikes.  He did.  I have to say that I did not hear any complaining from him either.  Nice Work Chuck!

Just all in a day’s work

Tam was very gracious in his riding.  He was forever complimenting everyone for their riding skills and hard work.  He was especially noticing the work Jeff and I did on the first two days pulling everyone else.  He was very high in his praise for me on day 2 during all of the rain.  I had to let him down easy though.  I told him the truth on why I was continually out front pulling the riders of the group.  It was not because I wanted to help them, it was because I did not want to eat their spray.  And seeing that it was loaded with horse shit, well, just another good reason to be in front.  Sorry guys, just me being selfish…again!

Always a pleasure

Day 3 turned out to be more brutal than any of us had anticipated.  But the pace lined worked and we made it through the day.  But I have to say that It was gratifying to see Stephan stretched out at one of the late rest stops on day 3.  If it was getting to the young guy, then me being tired wasn’t so bad after all!

Ken’s Sisters

The big joke of the group for the ride was Gregg looking for Ken’s sisters.  It was typical male humor to notice things and make fun of, well, females.  Gregg would notice a female and Ken would yell out the fact that it was his sister and to back off.  Well, once everyone was involved in the joke, it got a little ramped up and sure did take on a life of its own.  Personally, it showed more than just the usual bad taste of males and their bonding, it showed the good nature of the group.  I do not recall anything being said out of bad temper as can happen between riders, especially during the late portion of the ride when everyone is tired and grumpy.  I did not see that in this group as we all stayed pretty much in good spirits throughout the ride.  Now about Ken’s sisters, well time should tell…

 

Good partner

Jeff and I did not get separated at all during the ride.  Well, I take that back.  The only part was where Tam wanted to do some cooking and we left Chuck and Jeff behind for about 7 miles.  But other than that Jeff and I were together for the entire ride.  It is hard to guess the number of miles that we have shared in the last 6 years, but I would hazard the guess of over 4000 miles together.  He is a good friend and it was my pleasure to share this experience with him.