I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how my ride in the Sunflowers to Roses Bike Tour went this past Sunday. Wow what a day in terms of weather, and actual number of riders. Last year – calm winds, sunny skies, and temperatures starting out around 65. This year I think we were thrust right into monsoon season. Gusting winds and hard driving rain welcomed us Sunday morning.
For me, this was my 4th year riding in the Sunflowers to Roses Bike Tour – four very memorable rides. Once again I was humbled to be amongst some amazing individuals – some who are cancer survivors riding in celebration of life, and others who road along in silence thinking through what cancer has meant to them and their family.
In years past I have outlined the impact that this ride has had on me. This year will be no different.
This year I fell into both of the categories listed above – celebrating my dad’s successful cancer treatment (it has been just over a year since his treatments ended), but also riding in silence at times thinking about my aunt and the impact her life, and ultimate passing, had on my family. So with that, following is my story of the 2009 Sunflowers to Roses ride.
As I said, the day did not start the way any of us had planned. Rain was being dumped on us by the bucket load, and it was blowing sideways just to make it a little more interesting. At the start, we had limited access to shelter, but in spite of that there were still riders who came out to ride. There were still riders who came that morning to register – imagine that – coming out in a RAIN STORM and registering to ride in a charity bike ride. 250 or so of the over 500 registered riders made it there. 250 or so officially kicked off the 2009 ride. 250 riders all thinking about what this ride meant to them. All thinking about what this meant to their family and friends.
There was only one thing, this year verses any other year, that kept running through my mind – this day reminded me of my dad’s cancer treatment and the milestones that were made throughout his treatment. By that I mean we started out in a rain strong (i.e., hearing dad had cancer). The only way I can truly explain this is to say that, for the first part of the ride, the rain was pelting us the whole way. Not just a friendly drizzle – no a sideways, pounding rain storm. Black clouds swirling kinda stuff. For those of you who have lived through a loved one being diagnosed with cancer I am sure you can understand this connection. To me – this was like hearing about Dad’s cancer and the tears that flowed. Being pelted by the unrelenting rain – storm clouds constantly brewing. The rain teasing us, and then pounding us. Teasing then pounding. Emotions all over the place.
I am not sure how long this period of the ride lasted, but on my return trip, I started to see a break in the rain. Sure I was sopping wet. Sure I was miserable. But the storm was letting up. The unrelenting rain had relented. For me – this was like the end of dad’s treatment. He was miserable, but still moving toward a goal. Still moving toward the conclusion of this ride. We were still miles out, but moving forward at an ever increasing clip, with an end finally in sight.
And at the end of the ride, and I am not making this up, the sun broke out of the clouds for a moment. When I turned toward the group of cheering supporters the sun hit me and the other riders I was riding with head on. The celebration began for each of us at this moment. We finished a miserable ride, but ended with a celebration in the sun. The feeling here was so much like how I felt after the doctor told my dad, “Everything looks good – I will see you in 3 months.” The sun that appeared in our life arrived at the right time to wash away a little of that misery. Our tears could finally dry up.
So with that short story in mind, I wanted to let each of you know who I rode for. There are so many things to say, but for me the names below say it all. I rode for the families of those listed below, and more importantly I rode for the following loved ones…
I rode in celebration of: My dad – Robert Johnson, Mary Ann Beck, Weston Funk, Norma Monday, Danny Spain, Anand Gupta, Ramesh Sinha, all of the breast cancer survivors, and all cancer victims and their families.
I rode in memory of: My Aunt Venesa, Grandpa Rich, Sam Weeks, David Taylor, Jean Morsbach, Roy Stice, Claude Sevart, & Robin Redman, Caroline, William, and Raymond Yep, Gilbert Lee, Herman Spain, and as a friend said, “all of my family members who have died from cancer and are too numerous to name.”
Thank you once again for taking the time to read this, and for allowing me to ride for so many of you. Thank you for allowing me to ride in memory/in celebration of your loved ones.