As I rode behind a cyclist in front of me, I looked at the legs and thought ... those legs started in Baltimore on June 1 and have gotten all the way to Nevada in around 60 days.
Those legs, now toned and fit, climbed over the Rockies, took on the winds, went through the rain, and yet, they still pedal, hard and strong.
Each leg has multiple names written on them in marker; for each day they dedicate the day’s ride to a person fighting or one who has lost the battle to cancer. And why do you ask? On July 30 my family had the opportunity to again host 30 college-age adults — who rode across America from Baltimore to San Francisco — for the Ulman Cancer Fund and 4K for Cancer. Every year the 4K for Cancer has five teams with each member riding a bike or running across America.
They must raise at least $4,000 and be selected before they can go. They don’t meet their teammates until the night before send-off. They have to relearn, sometimes, how to ride a bike, how to clip in and clip out, and mold together into a team. They don’t have a “grown-up” there to help them out; they are the bike mechanics, the medic and the food supplier. They ride to make people aware of cancer.
This being our third time hosting this group, we could not have done it without many people helping us. These are stellar kids, and we only get them overnight, but then they are gone, off to the next stop. Many days are 100 mile days through heat and cold and rain and wind. Their lives are forever changed, especially when they dip their front tire in the Pacific Ocean.
They are a family on the road, a forever family. Many have lost loved ones to cancer. One lost his mom to brain cancer when he was a teenager, one lost her dad this year to cancer and one lost her boyfriend/best friend a year ago to a rare nasal cancer. They all felt they had to do something when they felt so helpless watching their loved one suffer. This was their way.
The cyclists rode into San Francisco Saturday, ending 70 days on the road, their journey over. They impacted lives all along the way. We are different people having these kids come into our lives. They have a purpose, a job, a path and they exude enthusiasm doing it. On Sunday, we were again happy to see one of them ride back to our house from the hotel, where he and his family stayed to have breakfast with us before heading back to Iowa.
If you get a chance to take part in this experience, you will be a better person for it, as they will be back next year, and we will have them again for less than 24 hours.
We rode out with them the next morning to Mound House to spend some more time with them, as there is never enough time ... it was great.