The Last Leg of our Journey

I think I have already started out several of my posts saying, “Larry is right” but I will say it again!  Larry is right.  There was so much positive energy and excitement Saturday morning.  We left the hotel as a group and rode to the start of the ride where everyone was anxiously awaiting the start of the ride.  Every person who rode any distance of the H140 had a reason for riding.  There were a few other organized rides to choose from on June 21 yet each person who was on the road chose this ride for a reason.  I heard a lot of those reasons on the road, at the rest stops, at at the finish line.  I also agree with Larry:  At the end of 110 miles on Thursday I was feeling very tired and sore, but as I rode toward Hunstman after lunch (after 100+ miles) I was feeling great!  Every person who did the ride has been anxiously training and preparing for this day and it was energizing to share the road with them.

After riding hundreds of miles in the desert on a road with no traffic lights or intersections, it feels strange to be riding in the city, in traffic, having to stop every few blocks at a light, and as the Huntsman Cancer Institute gets closer and closer,  the emotions seemed to get closer and closer to the surface.  While I was very much looking forward to seeing my family who was waiting for me at the finish line, but at the same, the Ride from Reno is a priceless experience each year and I was not wanting it to come to an end.

I am so happy to have been a part of the group that raised over $350,000 that will go directly to cancer research.  Thank you so much to those who so generously donated money on my behalf.  Thank you so much to the group of men who considered me one of the guys as we made this year’s epic journey.  I am already looking forward to next year!!

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Days 4 & 5 – We Made It (With Your Help!)

I didn’t blog Day 4, ~40-miles east of Ely, NV, to Delta, Utah, so I’ll start there. Day 4 is, for some reason, the most difficult of the entire Ride From Reno event. It’s also the shortest in mileage at only about 117-miles but, it’s the most grueling mentally and physically.

We start the day at the bottom of a 5-mile climb up to Sacramento Pass where we honor those who have had cancer and those who now battle this damnable disease, by writing their names in chalk on Highway 50 (The Loneliest Road in America). In total our group wrote hundreds of names some, for those who have ridden before, the same names written in previous years and sadly, many new names are also written. I believe I personally wrote over 100 names this year which, to me, is a crying shame. I’m just one insignificant person and yet I’m able to write the names of more than 100 people who have or have had cancer.

This is always a very, very, emotional place where tears are shed and it’s not uncommon to hear the unsuccessful stifiling of a sob. As with all of this ride, the feelings and emotions are nearly impossible to communicate but Sacramento Pass is even more so. To those of us who do this ride each year, Sacramento Pass is sacred.

My sweet daughter, Heidi, and her wonderful daughter, Hailey, made a sign for all of us to hold while a picture was taken we could send via Facebook to a dear friend, Madeline. Madeline supported her husband, Ray, and I years ago in the infancy of The Ride From Reno by driving into the Utah desert to be sure we made it to Delta. Being fairly new to Utah, I doubt she had ever heard of Delta but off she went on faith alone. She is now waging her own battle with cancer and the sign Heidi and Hailey made spoke volumes: “We Love You, Madeline.” Indeed we do . . . that day, in the beginning of The Ride From Reno, there were 2 of us on our bikes for Huntsman Cancer Institute. On Saturday, there will be >700 of us.

Following the emotions of Sacramento Pass, we descended to the valley where the Nevada/Utah border is located. The funny part is, you can see the border from >10-miles away but it seems to taunt us and stay tantalizingly away; there is a sign at the border that says it’s only 88-miles to Delta and that was the goal for Thursday.

After stopping along the roadside at the top of Small Chainring Pass (named by Jason and me) for a quick lunch we headed off towards Delta which seemed, with the ever-changing wind direction, an eternity away.

It was our last evening together and we made the most of it with a Dutch oven dinner celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Ray & Karen Van Uitert (Brian’s parents) and Jason’s birthday.

Saturday dawned bright and nearly windless (for a change!) as we were joined by approximately 250 additional cyclists who were riding the Huntsman 140 from Delta to the steps of Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. We had a tremendous day and had the opportunity to visit with many of those who joined us in Delta or who we met along the way. What a great day we had stopping at Westlake High School for lunch and picking-up additional riders along the way. I was excited that my brothers Derek and Coleman joined us in Eureka, as did my sister Laurie’s husband Mike and his sister, Kathy, making the ride a family affair.

For me, one of the highlights of the day was when my friend, Ray, joined us for a few miles. Ray is the husband of Madeline (who is battling cancer right now and is mentioned earlier in this post) and he is one of the best friends and finest people you’d ever meet. I was so touched that he’d join us today for a few miles.

I have to mention Russ and Leslie Thompson, who pulled me to the finish. Russ is insanely strong and pulled the last 20-miles . . . Russ, you Big Stud, thank you for your friendship and for getting me safely to HCI!

We arrived at Echo’s Mile where Alisa and several members of the Linton family rode on ahead of us crossing the finishline.

After our Reno riders crossed the finishline we continued on to the Circle of Hope where we pulled together for one final time. Tears and emotions were not just close to the surface . . . they were clearly on the surface. I had just ridden 667-miles from Reno, Nevada, to the steps of Huntsman Cancer Institute, with the finest people on the face of the earth. Not just those on their bikes but those who supported us along the way. We rode and endured snow, cold, rain, wind, heat, climbing, descending, and suffered like dogs. We put our own health and safety at peril. And we did it willingly, recognizing that better tolerated and less toxic treatments for cancer, along with cures for this freakin’ disease will not come easily or without a price. Each person on this little adventure paid all their own expenses, took more than a week away from their families and from their employment or businesses and, in the process personally dedicated thousand’s of dollars to fighting cancer. These are people of courage, commitment, and integrity. I have no problem saying lifelong friendships were deepened or were forged among us.

This year’s riders, and their support were:
Rob Behreman – Heidi Behreman
Jason Bleak – Chandler Bleak & Chelsea
Todd Handy – Jo Ann Handy
Rich Linton – Vicki Linton
Larry Peterson – Chandler Bleak & Chelsea
Joe Plater – Jim Warren & Laurie Nelson
Scotty Medine – Ray Smart
Jon Rose – Marian Sellers
Dan Sellers – Marian Sellers
Darcie Strong – Denise Martinsen
Brian Van Uitert – Ray & Karen Van Uitert
Jeff Warren – Jim Warren & Laurie Nelson

I am humbled to be associated with each of these people. Will there be a Ride From Reno in 2015? The answer is absolutely, positively, yes!

My thanks to each of you for your notes, thoughts, and prayers.

Until 2015.

Jeff

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2014 Ride from Reno – the final push – the H-140

2014 H-140 Finish LinePicking up the energy! Yes, when you are joined in by hundreds of rides there is a lot of ‘free’ energy in the air. Thursday we road a 110 miles and everyone was very tired. Today at 110 miles I was feeling great. Feeling great because of all the support that was around us, feeling great about all the people I had a chance to meet and hear their stories, feeling great about what we have been able to accomplish with the Huntsman 140 bike ride, feeling great about what Dr Tward at the Huntsman did for me. But at the same time having tears in my eyes for those personal friends and family members who have lost their battles with cancer and those who are struggling to get their life back. Then I get a big smile when thinking about those who have beat the odds and are no longer on the battle field. The floods of emotions hit hardest when finally passing under the ‘Finish’ banner.

It is hard to answer the question – why do you ride all the way from Reno? Only after you have done it do you really have an answer and the desire to do it again. Yes, as Jeff says “its about the Benjamins.” To me the funds raised is the cake of the event, but like a good cupcake there can be many interesting things done with the frosting on the top and even a few unexpected surprises. I’ve now done this ride 7 years and every year the cupcake has different frosting on top. It now seems like every climb, every descent, every long straight road across a valley now has several stories to tell. Stories made special by the people at your side, the support along the way and the weather conditions.

Thanks to all who have made this event possible, to Jeff and his vision and to the Huntsman staff who have taken this event to new levels. A special thanks to Glen B. who watched out for me all day and pushed me hard when I needed and to that small band of bothers and a sister who shared all of this with me.  It just doesn’t get any better!

Together we can make next year even better. See you then!

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Delta to Huntsman: The Huntsman 140

First, it was great to have Jon Rose rejoin us for the final push.  He paced me at about 28 MPH from partway up the climb to Saratoga all the way to the lunch stop!  I can’t wait to hear the tape of Emma and Makae, his two talented daughters who performed Friday evening necessitating Jon’s quick roundtrip home.

What a great day;  so many joined the cause today…the fight against the Monster of Cancer.  The ride mimics the fight:  unending effort along seemingly endless roadways.  Nothing to do but press on.  Others around to help;  others around to suffer with you;  but still each must press on.

I silently wept thinking about all for whom we were riding.  I wept for them and for those left behind…and those who will probably be left behind in the future as the Monster relentlessly and indiscriminately bears down upon its prey.  Some of these maimed, claimed, and left behind are very near and dear to me, and to my respected and revered AND LOVED riding companions from this epic Ride.  How deeply moving is the entrance into the HCI finish zone.  Riding with Jeff;  riding with The RFR Team; riding with The Survivors; riding with those still in the midst of their battle;  riding with those maimed but still with heart and attitude.

How hopeful I am that the fight can be won.  Heartfelt thanks to all who cared and shared to get us to this incredible fundraising goal this year.  I know most of us could be more “profitable” to the goal if we stayed home and worked and just sent the money in.  But there is an energy building from the effort of the Ride and the 140 that will surpass any personal effort we could ever make.  On to NEXT YEAR.

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Days 4 and 5 by Jason Bleak

Day 4 Sacramento Pass to Delta Utah By Jason Bleak
What a day. It was an absolutely beautiful morning. We made the climb up to Sacramento Pass where we stop to write the names of those we know who have had a battle with cancer. It is a very emotional and spiritual point in the ride. Names written in chalk on this summit somehow garner the respect of hallowed ground. There is monumental respect for the names and I watched several in our group purposefully walk around the names rather than step on them. It was with great reverence that I wrote names, Evie, Roy Tingey, Collette, Alison, Shelia, Jack, and the list went on. There was a sense of gratitude when I realized that among the names I had written there were more survivors than victims. Certainly the great work being done at HCI will continue to enable more survivors.

This ride into delta is always difficult. The roads are long and straight so they force you to settle in, find a rhythm, and pedal for hours on end. Then pile on the emotional transformation from the top of Sacramento Pass and it requires considerable focus to keep moving. I find myself chanting a song in a mind numbing rhythm and todays was “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me”. I don’t know how many hours that chant continued but it seems to numb all of the raw aches that are poking me at this stage of the ride.

Riding the bike is an absolute. Yes you may be able to sit-in the group and conserve some energy but there are no tow ropes, no air-conditioning or heated cab, no shade from the sun, just your good friends who are leading by example. Cancer is more brutal. Many feel abandoned, turned on by their own bodies, lonely and afraid and they need to know that we are riding for them, their families, their opportunity to hope, but they have to keep the pedals moving and draw strength from those who willingly offer. If you know a person who is riding cancers road please lend a hand, sometimes it only takes a kind word to inspire.

Day 5 Rest day in Delta.
Today went very fast. There was a massage and several hours of rest as we prepare for tomorrow.
For those who have not experienced a lengthy physical event here is what happens:
• You spend hours of physical and emotional energy for days on end and you gain weight. Yep your body during the repair and rebuild phase retains lots of water. Your legs swell, your arms are tight, your back sore and your butt….. let’s just say having a bicycle seat wedgie starts to feel like wearing 60 grit sandpaper underwear. It is good to have a day off.

Most of the group spent several hours together today, talking, worrying about the ailments of our group and trying to see if we could be of some small assistance. Even when we are not on the bike the group is still attending to the needs of each other.
Tomorrow there will be several hundred additional cyclists joining us and lots of new support crews so Chandler and Chelsea drove home today. I already miss the ring of their laughter. They were immensely pleasant to have along.
Time for some rest and then the final leg of this journey.

Finally, to the research and medical teams at HCI, keep up the good work. To those struggling with cancer, keep hope in your heart and the burning fire for life in your mind. May the winds be at your back.
Jason

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2014 Ride from Reno – Rest day

20140620_161305 20140620_143830 20140620_162649Well, rest day from the bike at least. Dan & Marian invited me along to go visit the Great Basin State Park and tour the Lehman caves. It’s about a 100 miles back along the road we just came in on yesterday. The ride was just as boring in the car as on the bike, but that all changed when we got to the park. the cave was spectacular and the dive up to the base of Wheeler peak would be a cyclist dream for coming down but a nightmare to climb (12 miles of 8%). This day trip is worth doing. Next year the full tour of the cave and a hike to see the Bristlecone pin forest are in order.

Had a good time this evening talking with Reno rider friends and meeting riders coming into the parking lot for the H-140 tomorrow. It is so gratifying to be part of what has become an epic event. A couple of guys who like to do long rides said the H-140 is their favorite – they are back from last year.

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Ride from Reno week.

Well what can I say about it…..

Day one,
Leaving Reno… It was time to go and the group was strong as we rolled away, getting to the hills I was happy to start the climb pushing the pedals and not thinking about nothing but getting to the top. Lunch was a nice break and yummy food thanks so much for it Vicky and Richard Linton.
A lot on my mind this week and it seems to be different this time than last but it’s all good the reason for the ride is the same.

Day two,
Not looking forward to the day it’s soooo cold and raining, I got a flat tire today ( thanks Darcie and Dan for the help ) we got going and caught the group again.
Snow at the top of the pass more rain and wind… I got in the car to get warm and avoid the down hills after climbing up them. We completed the day strong and feeling good, dinner and bed I couldn’t wait for it.

Day three,
Another cold morning and we started it going up hill… I had to play catch up, I came around the corner and the group was already 2 blocks up the road. The people I’m riding with are incredible and they all have their own reasons for doing this ride but the one person they rally around is Jeff the rock star of the ride.
Thinking lots today…. I need to turn up the music to make it stop, I do so and I’m gone trying to catch Rich at the end.

Day four,
Into Delta we go so we can rest :)
It’s a nice day today we all have on the same kits ( Thank you Jason ) but who is who haha. Started up hill and a stop at the top so everyone can have a moment to themselves to write on the road and remember those they have lost or just what’s important to them at the time. Me I just stayed back and watched till we head down and into Utah.
The day is done… Thanks to my support and all the others for the help they gave along the way.
Special times for one of the support groups 50 years wow congratulation to them!!!

Tomorrow we head into SLC towards the Huntsman, 140 miles to the end… The end of the ride not the fight for so many.
What will come after this for me?? That’s not important.

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And on the 5th day they rested

Webster defines rest as “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength” and as far as I can tell, my day has been the perfect execution of this definition. I was able to sleep in until 8:30 and boy was the rest needed. I have simply rested today, cleaned my bike and visited with other riders reminiscing about the 4 days of riding we have endured and what it has meant to each of us.

I am grateful for such good people to spend a week with. I am not sure if there is such a diverse group of people between the riders and our support group than there is among the Reno riders. Yet, the diversity has not divided any of us, in fact, it has solidified us into an amazingly cohesive group that loves each other and takes very good care of each other.

Physically, I can tell that I’ve ridden over 500 miles in the past four days and my legs have been screaming to me nearly every time I move. Yet with the final 140 miles less than 16 hours away, I am confident that I’ll be ready to finish strong. I have enjoyed this opportunity to ride for hope for those that deal with cancer and it’s lasting affects and I believe that through our efforts lives will be changed and hope will be found once again.

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