Epilogue – Jeff Warren

A week has passed since the 2013 Ride From Reno and Huntsman 140 ended and I’ve been thinking about both events ever since we crossed the finish-line at Huntsman Cancer Institute on Saturday, June 15th. In a way it was like Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

My family and I intended to leave Centerville, Utah, for Reno on Wednesday, June 5th, but due to work constraints didn’t get away until Friday, June 7th. Along with Janet and Josh who, with me, started this little adventure called ‘The Ride From Reno’ 12-years ago, we had our beautiful daughter, Megan, her sweet 14-month old son, Miles, and our wonderful 11-year old grandson, Braxton with us. We didn’t know Braxton got car sick, and it took us 3 ½ hours to make it to Wendover (120-miles from home). Not exactly an auspicious beginning.

We arrived in Virginia City late on the 7th to stay at my dad’s home for 2-days before the ride began. Our daughter Heidi, and grandchildren William and Hailey, met us there and we all had a wonderful time visiting, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company.

Fast forward to Monday, June 10th. All of us who were participating in ‘The Ride From Reno’ met at 6:45 a.m. at the arch in downtown Reno: Jason Bleak; Ravell Call; Todd Handy; Rich Linton; Mike MacDonald; Scotty Medine; Larry Peterson; Joe Plater; Dan Sellers; Darcie Strong; and, Brian Van Uitert. Four of those who joined us this year were new to the Ride and the other 8 were veterans.

After lots of pictures, smiles, nervous laughter, and a word of prayer, we were off on the first leg, which ended at my dad’s home in Virginia City, of this year’s 667-mile ride. We watered-up at my dad’s, and after a lengthy dissertation from me about the descent of Six Mile Canyon, we were off.

I should say Six Mile Canyon can be treacherous. The road is steeply downhill, narrow, cars occasionally come from the uphill direction, much of the road is in morning shadows making it nearly impossible to see potholes, and the corners, many of which are really tight, sometimes have gravel on them. In other words, there’s lots to be nervous about descending Six Mile Canyon.

I was the first bike to start down the descent. I distinctly remember looking at my computer and seeing ’30-mph’ and that speed, although not particularly fast, made me a bit anxious and I began feathering my brakes. Just as I did so, Jason passed me like I was standing still. He was sitting on his top-tube for maximum aerodynamics, and to get his center of gravity as low as possible. And, we were just starting into the first real corner! I thought to myself, “holy crap, Jason, slow down!” By the time I was out of that 1st corner, I could see Jason ahead of me, starting into the 2nd corner. “At least he’s out of the saddle,” I thought, seeing him standing-up a bit. “Hopefully he’s slowing down.” By the time I made it out of that 2nd corner, Jason was out of sight. I was still at 30-mph when I went into the 3rd corner and was stunned and shocked as I pulled through it and saw a cloud of dust still rising from the dirt shoulder on the left side of the road. There lay Jason, covered in blood and dirt. I hit my brakes as hard as I could and quickly made a u-turn to get back to the site of Jason’s crash.

We all gathered around and were mortified at what we saw. The force of the crash had nearly ripped Jason’s kit off him. He was standing, regaining his bearings, and he was literally covered in road-rash, blood, and dirt. Jason told us he had no broken bones but, pointing to his bike, told us his SL4 wasn’t so lucky: it was literally broken in half. Less than 30-miles into our 667-mile ride, tragedy had struck. We had a cyclist down and there wasn’t a darned thing we could do about it . . . . or was there?

First and foremost, we were so blessed to have Dan Sellers, and his wife Marian, with us. Dan is a board certified plastic surgeon as well as a board certified hand surgeon and works with the intricate (if you ever want/need plastic surgery, or hand surgery, he’s definitely your man!). Dan began cleaning Jason’s wounds and instructing others on what to do. He began applying Tegaderm to some of Jason’s road-rash while others in our group dabbed the dirt out of massive areas of road-rash. All this took place while blood continued flowing down Jason’s legs, back, arms, and sides. I had the privilege, along with Mike MacDonald, of cleaning off Jason’s buttocks (what happens in Nevada stays in Nevada!) If you’re getting a bit queasy, it wasn’t a pretty site.

While all this was going on, Jason told me to get a fresh jersey for him from Chandler, his wonderful daughter and terrific support, and he then went back to his car and got the spare bike he’d brought along.

Then, without fanfare, Jason rode off, dripping blood, down Six Mile Canyon while the rest of us composed ourselves, unable to believe what we’d just witnessed. I won’t fill-in many more details but, Jason rode every inch of the 667-miles of the Ride From Reno and the Huntsman 140. Those of us who were with him knew what had happened, the extent of his injuries, and the absolute pain in which we knew he had to be riding. And we just marveled.

I knew Evie and Allison were on his mind but, I’ll also say he was able to do what he did because Jason is one of the most dedicated, focused, committed, passionate men it’s been my honor to meet in this life. Integrity is more than a word to Jason . . . once he’s given his word to something he’ll move heaven or earth to make sure it happens.

Day-2 was no cake-walk, although the descent of Pinto Summit was a total blast! Austin Summit, Bob Scott Pass, and Hickison Pass were all tough, but the wind on Day-3 was horrific. At one point, between Ely, Nevada, and the spot where the road turns East towards Connors Pass, the wind was so bad and hard from the west it nearly blew several of us over. On the descent of Connor’s, I was taking a corner when I felt my front wheel being picked-up off the road by the vicious cross-wind. Scared me to death. I immediately hit my brakes and, by the time I came off the descent, I could see the others in our group 2-miles ahead of me! I’ll never look at Reynolds Forty-Sixers the same way again. Great wheels for head and tailwinds . . . awful wheels for cross-winds of any kind.
Day-4 started with a 5-mile slog up to Sacramento Pass, which is a place that has become sacred on the Ride From Reno. It’s a lonely, desolate, place where we stop to remember all those who have cancer and those who have had cancer. It doesn’t matter to us whether or not the person has survived their battle or not; it’s a place of remembrance. It’s where we each write on the road with chalk the names of those whose names are special to us individually. Some of those names haven’t been spoken in years . . . for example, one of the names I wrote this year was ‘Myrtle Cain’ , my maternal grandmother. I miss Grandma Cain.

There was such a strong outpouring of emotion on Sacrament Pass this year none of us were able to contain ourselves. Tears poured freely and unashamedly. There were many hugs between us but emotions were so intense that few words were, or could be, spoken. Cancer is an awful, damnable, disease. A disease that impacts the family and friends of its’ victim. And each of us wrote feverishly on the road. Name after name was written, some repeated by others in our group. I personally wore out innumerable sticks of chalk and, once I got down to the nub, I replenished with a new piece . . . . I’m certain I used more than 15-pieces of chalk that morning. I witnessed each of our group doing the same and all I can say is it was a sacred experience I’ll never forget. It was an honor to be with each of the Ride From Reno riders, and their support crews, that morning.

We motored-on, passed the Nevada/Utah stateline, crossed Snake Valley, and traversed No Name Pass before we headed-on to Delta. The ride into Delta seems to take forever! The road is so long, and so straight, it seems as though any progress happens at a snail’s pace. But make it to Delta we did.

That evening, June 13th, I asked our collective group to share how this year’s ride had impacted them. Nearly every person spoke, telling the group how this ride had affected them in a way they’d never imagined. You see, this ride isn’t about riding a bike. Each of us are passionate about bike riding so don’t get me wrong here. But, The Ride From Reno is much more than a bike ride. It’s an extremely challenging, somewhat dangerous, life-changing event. It’s about the Benjamin’s . . . raising money in the effort to find better tolerated, less toxic, treatments for cancer and, ultimately, cures for the >200-types of this damnable disease. That’s the bottom-line.

I know many reading these words will not understand, and it’s simply my own personal weakness and lack of ability in explaining what this ride is like. Unless you’ve been there and had the spirit of gratitude wash over you while you were rolling down the road or suffering up a climb, I simply can’t explain what it’s like. Unless you’ve been in the embrace of another sufferer of cancer, or fellow-sufferer on the bike, shedding tears you can’t account for, it’s nearly impossible to explain the ride and why we do it. But, do it we must. For our families and for your families, all in the hope that the day will come no one will have to suffer with/from cancer again.

Friday, June 14, we took as a recovery day in Delta. A few rode 25 or 30-miles, I think Todd ran that day but, for the most part, we laid low in anticipation of the Huntsman 140 on Saturday, June 15th.

June 15th dawned bright and glorious. The Reno Riders decided ahead of time we’d ride the final 140-miles together. When we got to the starting-line I was simply amazed at what I saw! I knew there were ~500-riders who would be joining us that day but I wasn’t prepared for the ~140-riders who joined us in Delta! When Janet, Josh, and I started this ride it was me on the bike and Janet and Josh in the car driving support. Today, ~500 would be joining us, with ~140 at the starting-line in Delta. I was overcome. And it only got worse.

I was in a bit of a fog when a gentleman walked-up to me and said, “Hi. I’m Jeff Haller.” You could have pushed me over with a feather. I looked into his eyes and immediately knew who he was . . . he didn’t even need to tell me his name. All I could do was lower my eyes and weep. You see, Jeff was my ENT/oncology surgeon 13-years ago who resected both my necks, removed my tumors, and put me back together. Statistically, with Stage IV Head & Neck cancer, I stood a 0% to 25% chance of surviving 5-years, yet he put me back together. And there he stood before me, resplendent in a yellow cancer survivor’s jersey.

Shortly after doing my 2-surgeries, he left Huntsman Cancer Institute. The stress and pressure of being one of the best ENT/oncology surgeons in the country was more than he wanted to put his family through so he uprooted them from Utah and moved them ‘home’ to Billings, Montana. Last year he returned to HCI as a patient, and underwent treatment for the exact same cancer he’d treated me for 13-years ago! Both Janet and I were overcome with emotion and hugged and thanked him for all he’d done for us. It is because of Jeff Haller, whose hands were guided by a kind and loving Heavenly Father, that I am alive today. And I got to ride the Huntsman 140 with him.

That was the start of my day.

We rolled through the farmland surrounding Delta and stopped just a mile or two from the huge power-plant where we gave everyone in the peloton a chance to write in the road with chalk the name(s) of the people for whom they were riding. Think Sacramento Pass.

I met Brett Wetzel (I may have his last name wrong) along the ride. He wasn’t in a survivor’s jersey but it was impossible to not notice he only had one leg. He wasn’t wearing a prosthetic device; he simply didn’t have a right leg. And he rode with tremendous strength. I was so very, very, impressed. At the feed, just before Elberta, I saw Brett and had to ask if he’d suffered some type of military injury, or what had happened. He told me he’d have been in a survivor’s jersey if he’d registered in time but, he hadn’t. He had bone cancer 5-years ago and lost his leg to this damnable disease. He may have lost that particular battle but, as I witnessed that day, he definitely won the war! Cancer, you SUCK!

We rolled-on toward Saratoga Springs where we passed Rob Berman and Jeff Haller (Jeff had flatted). I couldn’t stop myself from turning back to help pull Rob & Jeff to Westlake High School. I wasn’t there for more than a few minutes when Larry Peterson pulled-up; he’d come back to help out after he saw me turn back. What a friend. Thank you, Larry.

Shortly after we got back on the road, Rick McGurk Sr. passed us driving Mike MacDonald’s truck. I remember hollering, “let’s catch his draft!” as I jumped out of the saddle to draft behind Rick Sr. We were moving so quickly, and I was only a foot or so off the truck’s rear-bumper, that I didn’t dare look down at my computer. When I finally looked, a few minutes later, my computer read: 28-mph. I looked behind me and no one was there and I felt so badly! I’d taken the truck’s draft and left my friends in the process. I hope they’ll forgive me!

Once I arrived at Westlake High School things quickly became a blur. Kathy McGregor was there . . . it was Kathy and Mark’s home in Saratoga Springs we stopped at for years before our final assault on the leg to HCI. Sadly, Mark, who was one of the kindest people you’d ever meet, passed away from cancer. Yet Kathy has kept the tradition alive by joining us at the High School once our numbers became to large for her home. Others were there as well but, I’ll never forget seeing Mark Sykes.

Mark is a great friend and member of our cycling club. He, and his wife, Meg, are 2 of the kindest, most generous and gracious people on earth. And Mark has been suffering with cancer for ~1-year. Today Mark was going to ride with us, in spite of the fact he’s been undergoing treatment. We left the High School with Mark in tow and I don’t think there was a dry eye in our group, nor do I believe anyone in our peloton could have been more proud than to get to share the afternoon with Mark. What an inspiration he is to each and every one of us.

After 40-miles we arrived at Huntsman Cancer Institute and I don’t think anyone was prepared for the emotions we felt as we rolled across the finish-line. All the pain, all the suffering, all the stress, all the emotion, all the joy, all the humor, all the happiness, all the euphoria, and all the excitement seemed to percolate to the surface. Most of us had leaking eyes, which was totally OK. We’d done it. We finished what we’d started out to do. Mission accomplished.

Until next year.

Which brings me to the last few paragraphs of this ‘War and Peace’ post. I got to spend the week of June 10th with some of the very best people on earth. People for whom kindness, grace, generosity, respect, integrity, and honor are a way of life. Jason, Ravell, Todd, Rich, Mike, Scotty, Larry, Joe, Dan, Darcie, and Brian are exactly those kinds of people. Their support crews of Chandler, Chelsea, Ray & Karen, Jo Ann, Vicki, Scott, Marian, Denise, and my amazing dad, Jim, are those kinds of people as well. And I got to spend a week with them. I am a better man because of it. And I thank each of them for allowing me to share with them ‘The Ride From Reno’ and the life-changing event it is.

I think all this can be encapsulated in an experience my sister, Laurie, and her family had as they were leaving HCI on June 15th. As they got to the bottom of the hill, they came across a woman with a bike, standing beside the road. She was sobbing. Recognizing she might be in trouble, they quickly turned their car around and approached the woman. It turned-out she was part of the Huntsman 140 but had ‘run out of gas’ and could go no further. She couldn’t quite see the finish-line from where she’d stopped but she was so close. Her mother, father, and brother were there and explained how important it was to her to finish. But, between sobs, she explained she could go no further. My brother, Coleman (who rode with us from Westlake High School), and brother-in-law Mike, told her to get on her bike and then proceeded to push her up to where she could see the finish-line, where she got her ‘second wind’ and was able to cross the finish-line under her own power.

To me, that exemplifies the true spirit of The Ride From Reno and the Huntsman 140. It’s something we have to do even though sometimes we can’t explain why. It’s certainly not about us; it’s something much, much larger.

I read a quote a few weeks ago that went like this: A person who thinks little things don’t matter has never been alone in a room with a mosquito. Perhaps that’s part of the reason we do this ride each year. We know that, together, we DO make a difference.

Until 2014,

Jeff

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An Ambition Greater Than Our Own

On Saturday the 12 of us in Task Force RFR 2013 were joined by all of the riders participating in the Huntsman 140.  Some of them joined us in Delta, and others started at Huntsman and joined us along the way.

As a group we had decided to stick together for the ride into Huntsman.  We had been riding together as a group since Reno and we all wanted to finish it up that way too.  This made a world of difference for me compared to last year.  The other Reno riders kept me in the group the whole day.  I am sure I cost them a few KOMs yet they didn’t take off even though I told them a few times to go on ahead and I would catch up.   To each of you in the Band of Brothers, thank you for riding with me and letting me ride with you.  Each of these guys can be hardcore competitive when it comes to getting to the top of mountain passes first yet they have no reservation at all with slowing up a bit to make sure everyone is in the group or dropping back to help someone who is off the back.  To borrow a phrase from Larry, these are men whose wheel I’m privileged to grab and hang on.

Along the way we met more and more cyclists on the road and each of them had a reason for doing this ride.  There are LOTS of organized rides to pick from these days but every person who rode in the Huntsman 140 was willing to devote their time, energy, and funds to support the fight against cancer.

I met up with lots of familiar faces from the Bountiful Mazda cycling club at lunch and was energized by their support.  I remembered from last year that the last 40 miles or so after lunch were some of the most emotional and the same thing happened this year also.  Once we get over the Camp Williams hill, we can SEE the Huntsman Cancer Institute and after hundreds of miles of pretty remote terrain, actually being able to SEE the destination is a bit surreal.  When we got to about 56th South we were stopped at a red light, when a guy waiting to cross the street asked us where we were going.  We told him we were headed to Huntsman Cancer Institute and he said we still had “quite a ways to go”.  We all got a big kick out of this and an even bigger kick out of the look on his face when we told him where we had come from!

I was caught between so much looking forward to arriving there because I knew that my parents, my sister, her husband, Denise and her sister were waiting for me, and feeling sad that this year’s precious Ride from Reno experience was drawing to a close.   The street numbers got smaller and smaller and soon we were heading up the hill into Research Park.   We arrived to a crowd cheering us on and once again I was thankful for my sunglasses as I was completely overcome with emotion.  So glad to be home again, so glad to have been able to complete the ride, and so glad I am able to be a part of this event.  When I last checked, the total funds collectively raised by riders was just under $200,000!!   What started a few years ago as one cancer survivor riding solo, has turned into an event that generates $200,000 worth of HOPE.

It was back to work for me today, where I received some great news!  One of the people whose name I had with me for every mile of the ride, and whose name I wrote in green chalk on the road on the top of Sacramento Pass had all her cancer successfully removed by surgery and her doctors have confirmed that it has not spread anywhere else.  Aside from regular checkups, she will not need any further treatments!!

Task Force RFR 2013 is now on hiatus until 2014 when we will return to do it all again! :)

 

 

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End of the Road 2013 – Rich Linton

Why do grown men cry?
I don’t know

Why do I go weeks without a deep emotional experience and here, on a lonely road in Nevada, a 6’4″ 240lb man passes me on a bike, with serious road rash on his back and legs, and my emotions bubble over with tears?
I don’t know.

Why does writing a list of names on the asphalt road on a mountain pass at 7740′ on the loneliest road in America, with chalk, conjure up so much emotion?
I don’t know.

Why when I think about James, Sam, and Luke, 3 perfectly healthy boys, I can no longer see clearly?
I don’t know.

Why when I see in my mind’s eye Jeff riding alone, Ravell riding with Colette’s name, and Todd speaking from the heart, I cannot control my emotions?
I don’t know.

But with all these “I don’t knows”, this is what I do know: there is a plan – an eternal plan – as eternal as the circles on a bike. Deep inside I think we all know this. As we look around, we see this eternal loop of nature as evidence. But as immense as this plan is, we can, individually, make a difference – this I know.

Thank you Jeff for the invite.

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It’s over – another Ride from Reno and Huntsman-140 with more memories for the book of remembrances and there are plenty of events for the book this year. Jeff is quick to remind us that this event is about raising money for cancer research at the Huntsman and that is certainly true, but there are lots of contributing reasons. I ask several riders why they were on the ride. Only one said “because I like the ride.” All others responded with personal stories of trials or of epic fights by family members or friends against cancer. It’s my feeling that it’s the personal connection, in one way or another, with this dreaded disease that brings riders to this event. I started doing this ride to first show support then to honor my sister and now as a survivor the ride brings a new level of emotion. Watching two friends place their hands on the back of a survivor and helping him up the steeper bits in the climb to Eureka says a lot about what this ride is all about. Or chatting with the guy riding with one leg on the approach to Eureka and learning that since I first met him 4 years ago at the Moab Skinny Tire Event he is now doing an internship at the Huntsman. What a great inspiration, loosing his leg to cancer and not at the Huntsman to say now way cancer – you are not getting the best of me! Or Jason who had the courage to get back on the bike after a crash and continue on. Or ironman Todd who KOMed on Sacramento Pass! Or ‘Flash’ Ravell who got bad news about his wife’s cancer the day before the H-120. Or Mark who joined us at lunch time and faces a new round of cancer treatments on Monday. All of these people could have backed off, but no way will they give up. These are men who’s wheel I’m privileged to grab and hang on.

What a fantastic group of riders to be with. Thanks to their energy and encouragement I was able to make it to the finish line not to be denied by cancer or broken bones! I survived!!

As this event grows it becomes impossible to thank or even know all of those who have made it possible. The planning staff at the Huntsman, the dozens of people supporting at the rest and lunch stops, the bike shops that provided on road support, the organizations that provided facilities along the way all of which made this a great ride. Then there are those who followed us all the way from Reno. How nice it was to know they were always there with water, food, ringing bells, cheers, toting bags, and what ever you might ask for only leaving us to worry about keeping the legs going round. And not to forget – those worrying about us back at home. In reality with out them we would not be successful.

Finally, my friend and cycling brother Jeff – there are not enough words or space – just thanks we all love and respect you and the changes you have made in our lives.

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A few photos from Day 5 – Huntsman 140

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Rich Linton’s after action report Day 1-4

After Action Report for Task Force RFR 2013 (Ride From Reno)
Mission: To raise money to find better tolerated, less toxic treatments for cancer and ultimately cures for the more than 150 types of this damnable disease.
Personnel: At the present time all personnel are healthy, highly motivated and strong. On Day 1 Task Force RFR took a direct hit. JB was the one wounded but watching him quickly fight through the pain seemed to strengthen all of us. It’s hard to explain, but it just happened that way. You get the feeling that these guys can do anything. Morale is extremely high. 12 cyclists with type A personalities with an unusual mix of humility, competitiveness, a can do attitude, a touch of meekness, a sincere desire to help others and a liberal expression of love. Task force consisted of four rookies and 8 veterans.
Weather Conditions: During the first four days the weather was windy. There was extreme wind in unexpected areas. The windy conditions near the billion dollar wind farm showed evidence the engineers did their due diligence. Temperatures were moderate with occasional rain drops, dust, mud rain, blue sky, cloudy, and dark clouds.
Terrain: Steep terrain. Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state and collectively has the highest elevation. Our bottoms feel like they crossed every mountain range.
Operations:
Day 1 Reno to Cold Springs. 137 miles, 5,800 feet climbing. Task Force RFR working well together. The rookies are learning as the veterans are teaching. One wounded warrior provided inspiration for all.
Day 2 Cold Springs through Austin to Eureka. 120 miles. Aided by good winds we reached our destination early. Settled into quarters and found out there was a city wide black out during the dinner hours.
Day 3 Eureka to 40 miles east of Ely. 120 miles Mountain Pass Day. Climb, descend, flat repeated 5 times. Speeds up to 50 MPH on a descent with bikers in close proximity makes the pucker factor max out.
Day 4 Delta 120 miles We climbed immediately up to Sacramento Pass which is now a sacred place. Names of loved ones to remember were chalked onto the road. Tears were shed and hugs were abundant. From that point the next 15 miles was solo time. Even riding in the tight group seemed spiritual in nature. Then we were startled into fierce cross winds. This was when the big guys were protecting the small guys. This was when I was worried that the winds might blow over the protector. After making a left turn the wind was in our favor and we moved briskly across the Delta salt flats, until the sweet smell of freshly cut alfalfa reminded us we were close to our destination. The conclusion of the day was when Jeff reminded us of our ultimate mission and each one shared their personal feelings of this journey and how cancer has affected all their lives.

Support: It is impossible to do this mission without the proper support. The logistics is difficult. Even though support was riddled with rookies Denise and her experience became critical to this operation. Everyone was ready to do what they could to support all the riders. Getting lost was not a problem. There was only one road.
Command and Control: General Jeff has total respect of all task force members. This allows him to demand more and get more. He is safety conscious and it has paid great dividends over the past 12 years. He relies upon his other veteran riders to aid the rookies.
Recommendation: Task Force RFR continues through 2014 and beyond or until cancer is conquered.

PostScript: Cancer is like the wind. It seems to come from every direction and sometimes it blows gently and sometimes it is so fierce that patients and families wonder if they will be able to withstand the gales. There are many who want to help and support the cancer patient, but ultimately like each individual rider the patient must pedal themselves amongst their support group. With research more and more patients will be able to withstand the fierce winds. But research takes money and Huntsman depends upon donations to continue their work to lessen the impact of cancer. Contribute to Huntsman Foundation.

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Link to Todd Handy’s Day 4 blog

Todd Handy Blogspot

 

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Brian van Uitert – Day 4 Sacramento Pass

Here we are resting in Delta and as I reflect back on this week my emotions begin to surface and it becomes increasingly harder to concentrate and to see the computer screen.   When I first learned of Jeff’s epic ride from Reno to The Huntsman Cancer Institute, I thought he was in need of some serious psychiatric help…immediately!  However, my viewpoint has changed now that I have ridden the road and have put all that I have out there on the loneliest road in America (highway 50) and have thought constantly about how bad cancer sucks and the lives that it has changed, including mine.

Our ride yesterday to the top of Sacramento Pass was difficult for me, not because of the distance or the steepness of the climb, rather it was how the ride starts.  We unloaded our bikes from the cars, had our morning “devotional” accompanied by a prayer for safety and good weather, and we started climbing with zero feet (or miles) of warm up and that does not work good for me.  Typically I like to ride for 20 – 30 minutes before I start climbing so I can warm up and get myself prepared for the climb and that was just not possible.

As we started the climb I frequently reflected on those whom I am riding for and none of these great people had any time to “prepare” for the onset of cancer so why should my journey from Reno to SLC be any different?  This was a stark reminder to me that cancer can strike at anytime and is no respecter of persons and certainly doesn’t allow for time to prepare for the life altering diagnosis.  In other words, suck it up big boy and deal with it!

When I saw the summit of Sacramento Pass, I put everything I had on the line and I sprinted as hard as I could up the remaining mountain pass and when I crested the summit I was completely spent, I had nothing left.  The remaining time we spent on the summit was spent reflecting, honoring and memorializing those for whom we are riding and all other cancer patients, survivors and victims everywhere.  For what Sacramento Pass has come to represent to all of us Reno Riders is one simple thing, hope.  Hope for a cure.  Hope for enough people to band together and find a cure for this insidious disease.  Hope for tomorrow.  Hope for comfort in dealing with the diagnosis of and the treatment of cancer.  Hope for friends and family to rally around those affected by cancer.  Hope for better medicines with less side effects.  Hope for a unity amongst all of us that we can make a difference if we just put forth the effort.

As far as Thursday’s ride went, it was long and hot and at times we had a pretty difficult wind that seemed to attack at various angles which presented multiple challenges but in the end, the wind was at our backs and the last 50 or so miles was pretty much a cake walk.  Overall the entire 112 mile day was much shorter that we were anticipating so when we rolled into Delta early, we simply let out a sigh of relief and congratulated each other for four difficult days of riding and the 487 miles we have ridden together.

Collectively we have crossed the deserts of Nevada as a united group of family working, sacrificing, sweating, (sometimes swearing), laughing, crying, and talking about so many things and in the end we are working towards one goal, eliminating cancer because it sucks.  I can’t express enough how much I love the “Reno Riders” along with all the support people, they are simply amazing.

I have pretty much been an emotional wreck today thinking about what the “Ride from Reno” represents to each of us so I am not sure how I am going to handle ending our journey tomorrow.   As we roll into the Huntsman Cancer Institute our journey ends, but the journey for a cure has not so we must roll on and each of us make a difference.

As the Huntsman 140 riders join us tonight and tomorrow for the final journey to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the thoughts of more people sacrificing their time and energy to support the funding of cancer research is simply startling.  As of Friday afternoon, there has been over $177,500 raised for cancer research through the Huntsman 140 website so there is in fact “hope” so let’s keep making a difference and do what we can to work towards a cure.  Ride strong, live strong.

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