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.