Jason and Larry asked me to write a little bit about the view of this ride from the support perspective. By way of introduction, I’m Denise, the support for what I thought was going to be TEAM DARCIE, but quickly turned into TEAM RIDE FROM RENO! Less than an hour into the ride it became apparent that there was no one there for themselves…..not the riders and definitely not the support team.
I thought going into this that it would be the most boring thing in the world to drive across Nevada at 20 mph….but I have to say I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to become a part of. Jeff had told me that is would be hours of boredom and moments of terror….and he was right. Watching a few cars get a little to close to our team…..or someone not getting around them as fast as I thought they should was the moments of terror. But what Jeff didn’t tell me was what an amazing opportunity it would be to see amazing men and women display amazing acts of kindness, bravery, selflessness, compassion, courage…and the list could go on….
The support team was made up of mothers, fathers, daughters, wives, partners, friends…..all there because someone we love had chosen to put themselves to the test of riding from Reno all for the benefit of cancer research. Each day we were there to drive behind the pack to make sure that cars going 80+ mph knew to slow down…..we jumped in between the riders going up mountain passes again to make sure they knew our team was there. It didn’t matter who we were following, each of those riders turned into our brother, our father, our son, our daughter….and I would dare say we protected them as our own. We took turns driving behind, or going ahead a few miles, and waiting for them to pass, and then passing them again, and waiting. I can tell you that I drove across the state of Nevada, but honestly, I can’t tell you much about the scenery…..mostly you were watching for them….the bright colored jerseys on bikes, rounding a bend, coming over hill, pressing forward.
On Wednesday on the last mountain climb of the day (there were 5 that day), I was following Darcie, Sarah was at the side of the road taking pictures, and when Darcie approached – Sarah cheered her on and gave her the encouragement to get around the next corner and to the top. I in turn hope that I cheered for everyone else just as much!
I don’t know that I have the ability to describe to you what these amazing riders have been through this week…..there are no words to describe the looks on their faces as they are climbing a very tough spot on the hill, or to describe the amazing contortions that Ravell can do on a bike to stretch out his back, and yet keep going full stride, and stay in a straight line. What I can tell you is that there is nothing in my previous experience that could have made the impact that this has.
So why do these people do this? What makes them completely nutty in the head to ride a bicycle from Reno to Salt Lake? I found the answer to that on Thursday….Tribute day on Sacramento Pass…Others have told you that it was emotional, which it was. That is was touching, which it was. For me, it was the realization of why I was there, not only to support Darcie, but as I looked at her list of names, folded to fit into her back pocket, and carried every mile she pedaled….almost half are members of my family. My aunts, my uncles, my friend’s parents, someone who was loved by someone I love…..I can’t ride a bike 667 miles, heck, I can’t even ride one 10 miles…..but I can support those that can!
To my new brothers and sisters who have shared this experience, thank you for letting me be a part of this. Thank you for the hours and hours of time you have spent on your bikes preparing for this challenge, and thank you to your families – because we all know that this does not happen over night. There is no rider who can do this without months of preparation, hours away from their families several times a week. They’ve told you why they ride in prior posts. Why do I support them? Because I know at the end of the day Darcie can get off her bike and come home…many of those on our list are gone….while their memory lives on….our goal is to not keep adding to that list, that will take research to make better drugs, better treatments, more cures…..and that takes money.
If you are reading this blog, and you haven’t donated, forgo the Diet Coke, pass up the Mountain Dew, and donate the $1, none us know who’s next to receive the awful news that you or someone you love has cancer.