I trust each of you had a fantastic weekend.
For me, it was another one of those memorable weekends. As a quick reminder, this was my S2R ride weekend.
Yesterday, I rode in honor/memory of so many loved ones – 58 in total. 58 people who I know personally. 58 people who my close friends know personally. 58 people and their families whose lives were upended by cancer.
In years past I have outlined the impact that this ride has had on me. With that said, I wanted to take a moment to let you know how my ride in the 2013 Sunflowers to Roses Bike Tour went.
For me, this was my 8th year riding in the Sunflowers to Roses Bike Tour. Each ride has been memorable for its own particular reason. Some years were memorable due to the joy I felt after hearing some wondrous news, while others were memorable due to the stunned silence and emptiness I felt after hearing unexpected news.
This year my memories were spread between celebration and quiet reflection. Celebration regarding my dad’s successful battle with cancer (it has been just over a 5 years since his treatments ended). Celebration regarding my own personal battle with cancer (just over 2 years cancer free). But, there were also moments of quiet reflection when I rode in silence reminiscing about Uncle Bob, Basa, and Aunt Venesa. There were also long moments when I thought about everyone who was listed on the poster I carried on back, and the impact each of them had on my life and my family’s life.
This year, like so many before, I was humbled and blessed to ride 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.
But, this year was a little unique from previous years because this would be the first year I was riding in S2R by myself since my surgery. Thinking about riding alone made me think about that moment when I heard I had cancer – that moment when I initially thought my battle was a solo one. That moment when the room became small, and I felt all alone. No one around me…just me and the doctor.
Well, I was wrong then, and I was wrong this year. Two years ago, I found out quickly that having cancer means pulling together and finding support from family and friends. This year I found a new companion on my ride – Sachin Sinha – my nephew. He agreed to ride with me. I am not sure if he knew this or not, but I really needed him. I told myself that I needed him for his cheerful attitude in spite of the rain forecast, but the reality was I needed him so that I didn’t feel alone.
Oh, and I gave him plenty of chances to back out. Are you sure you want to ride? It might rain. To that I heard, “I love to ride in the rain!” Then I gave him another chance the night before. To that I heard, “Just tell me when we need to leave!” Then I gave him one last chance to back out the day of the ride. Rather than back out, he jumped on his bike said he was ready to ride! He rode with me totally unprepared for this ride…no training… the wrong clothes… the wrong shoes… but he rode with me. He rode with me because I asked him to join me on this journey.
Bringing this back to the world of cancer, who is really ready to hear they have cancer? Who is really ready to hear that a loved one has cancer? Who is really ready to bear the celebrations or the quiet reflections? Yet each of us jumps on our bike – totally unprepared for the journey ahead – stumbling along, but riding side by side with our loved ones. We battle the elements around us with the hope of being a supporter, a friend, a familiar face, a rock in the storm.
This year, Sachin rode with me. He never stopped. He never complained. He just rode with me. He rode with me despite the fact that we were thrust right into another monsoon season (similar to 3 years ago). We pushed off together from the starting line shortly after the rain started to dump buckets of water on us! He road with me despite the gusting winds and the driving rain. He road beside me, and I rode beside him. We accomplished this together – not as individuals but as a team.
So, in conclusion, I want each of you to know that this ride means more to me than riding for me – it means riding for you and your loved ones. It means riding in celebration or quiet reflection as we all think about our loved ones. It means supporting those who are stumbling along and not knowing if they can finish. It means regardless of the outcome, we did this as a team.
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.