I’ve started to write this post a few times since we rode the American Cancer Society Bridge to Beach charity event last Sunday. One attempt was more of a recap of the event. Another I was getting more into the products that we used. The event was more than that though. It was an event to fight cancer.
Over 81 solo miles of the century for myself, 47 of 67 solo for Vee, we had a lot of time on our own to think about our family and friends who have fought and are fighting cancer. Some are just starting their first battle, others fighting their second or even third battles. Some won their battles, some lost.
It was a tough ride, more so mentally than physically. I mean, yeah, it was 100 miles in 90+ degree heat. That part was a challenge, but we had the right equipment, we ate and drank right, and all of the training we have done got us to the end. I’ll touch on more of that in another post soon.
The mental challenge wasn’t even the mileage or the times when I was on the route and couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind me. It was seeing all the blue and yellow rider numbers while thinking about our friends and family. These rider numbers signified that the cyclist was a survivor or is fighting cancer now. It was even more heartbreaking to see the half blue/half yellow numbers.
These riders provided hope, though. The fact that they are fighting or have won their battle with cancer, and are out challenging themselves on the road shows us that cancer is something we can overcome. It is something that can be beaten. It is something that we are fighting together.
I left Vee at the first aid station at mile 12. I was concerned about making the cutoff to be on the century course and didn’t want to chance it. We texted each other when we stopped, but after a while, the NJ cell coverage meant we hadn’t heard from each other in a few hours.
I’ll admit that I was worried about Vee. She’s not the most comfortable riding with traffic, but once she has been riding for a little, it comes back. I was more worried that she was going to have a flat tire than anything, but not hearing from her led my mind in all kinds of directions. We both had our ICEdots on though, so I had to trust in the technology.
Along the way, we both had a chance to meet and chat with people participating at the event. I kept conversations on the lighter side, talking about the ride or complementing equipment choices (especially the other Bianchi riders), but you knew everyone there had a special connection to cancer. Be it, family or friends, we were all doing our part to help fight the disease.I jumped in with a few riders and we pace lined our way to the third to last stop. They happened to find me at just the right time, which helped me recover from the efforts I was putting in to try and get through the century loop as fast as I could to catch back up to Vee. It was an older lady, and
I jumped in with a few riders and we pace lined our way to the third to last stop. They happened to find me at just the right time, which helped me recover from the efforts I was putting in to try and get through the century loop as fast as I could to catch back up to Vee. It was an older lady and older gentleman, and a younger guy who eventually fell off the back and caught us at the stop. The four, then three of us worked well together, and had a little chat along with way. I think they thought I was much younger than I am, but they really dug the Handlebar Mustache Apparel FUCancer socks I had on.
It was between the third and second to last stops that my phone started receiving text messages again. I couldn’t read them until I got to the next stop. but I knew that I had received a few from Vee. With one stop remaining, that’s when I saw the message…Vee crashed. I continued to read through. At first, she said something was bent on her bike, and she was not sure if she could continue. The next text said she was at the last aid station, but that her phone battery was really low and she would wait for me there. Picturing her scraped up, bleeding, and with a broken bike, I skipped my planned recovery and pushed on.
I didn’t know if she was okay. I figured she was, but I wanted to be there. I hated the feeling of not knowing and not being able to help. I buried myself over those 12 miles, only slowing for traffic lights/signs or to get around packs of slower riders.
When I arrived at the last stop, Vee found me while I was fumbling for my phone. She looked okay and seemed to be walking around find. I was relieved. The story goes that she was going through an underpass that was under construction with narrow lanes and a very surface. Many other riders ahead of her had gone through and flatted from the pot holes. As Vee went through, a car in the other lane swerved into her’s to avoid a pothole. It was either get hit by the car or go into a cement barrier, so she veered right. The car kept on going.
After collecting herself from the impact, she was a little scraped and bruised, but fine. Her Warrny suit had a small tear in the shoulder and her handlebars and shifters were a little out of sorts. Another rider who was already there helping a teammate with a flat got Vee’s bars and shifters straightened out. She was a little shaken, but she was good to continue riding. By the time she was at the aid station though, the palm of her hand was beginning to swell a little, and the bruises were starting to show.
We didn’t waste much time at the stop and left to finish the final 7 miles on the Atlantic City Expressway. I wanted to get her back to the car as fast as I could so we could make sure she was okay and get home to rest. We spun along the shoulder of the highway, another road we normally cannot ride on, as motorists stuck in traffic watched us go by. NJDOT workers cheered us along, and we passed the final police helping out in Atlantic City. We had a right turn left and rode through the ACS arch to finish.
We were happy. We overcame the heat and humidity, the long stretches of road. We took our pictures and walked back to the car and packed up to head home. We completed our challenge for the day, but it reminded me how those fighting cancer cannot complete their battles by riding a bike and crossing a finish line. Their battle continues on.
Please consider donating to the American Cancer Society through our donation pages. You can find them here on the Donate section of our site. Once donations are closed for this year’s event, we will make sure there is another link to donate through #TeamKICKASS.