The Tour de France just concluded - 21 stages of excitement, heartbreak and crashes. While so many people would never watch a single 100-mile bike race, it is thrilling to me, especially when you consider that the Tour is 21 stages over 23 days - a truly grueling suffer-fest where riders power through pain and injury with the distinction of finishing or even more. I love the bike - I love riding my bike - I hate that in order to get a good ride in that I must sacrifice a great deal of time from my family.
We all are busy — that is our badge of honor these days. When someone asks the simple question, the response is often how busy I am with work, my family and my community. I love all of them, with the precious time with my wife and daughters paramount to my happiness.
A few years ago, I rediscovered my bike. My 1993 Trek 820 that I bought in college called me back and I started riding short routes near my house on this incredible workhorse of a cycle. Then I was given a gift that until now, I did not realize how much it would mean to me. In 2011, my birthday gift was a Cannondale CAAD8 — a bike that made the hills here in Athens so much easier than an old steel mountain bike. I love that bike but I hated the logistics of riding it when I had increasingly busy daughters for whom I would sacrifice all of my time.
So, in 2013, I declared that I was a runner and ran my first half marathon. I loved and still love running. It is my quiet time- 30, 60, 90 minutes without my phone or any noise but what is around me. I love the economy of running that in just 30 minutes, my exercise is done. I still missed the bike.
This year, my year of firsts, I have rediscovered my bike with the help of the baddest (and best looking) cycling team, The Midnight Train from Georgia. My goal to END CANCER has brought me back to my bike where I balance both speed and suffering, and connect with the peace that I have been seeking. I ride angry, sad and motivated. I ride even when my legs and mind tell me to stop. You see, it is personal — not just my dad but too many friends are battling (and sometimes losing to) cancer. I found my bike to help and to battle when people can’t.
I go back to the Tour de France- where Phil Liggett, its star commentator comes in. You see, I like to ride by myself. I know it is dangerous but it is MY time and I usually seek solitude when I get into the saddle. So, when I ride and hit difficult times or high speeds, I often hear Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett in my head with his witty banter, inevitably exclaiming that I am winning the polka dot jersey as the king of the mountains. He shares how I have kicked it into another gear and am dominant amongst my competitors.
Recently, I fired Phil (sorry), because I heard a new voice- my father. He was his usual polite self who rarely called me by name, instead referring to me as son, honey or sweetie. At the same time, his commentary did not praise me- it simply told me to keep pushing and to ride through the pain, both mental and physical. He told me to keep my backside on that bike and get up that hill. He told me that no fight can be greater than finishing my race on that bike and finding an end to cancer.
In a couple of days, I ride in my first Pelotonia and have chosen to take on its newest and longest route- 200 miles total, with 100 miles each day. I ride for my dad, I ride for my friends, I ride for people who battle and who have lost and I ride for everyone who struggles with the specter of cancer each day. I ride with the people who helped me rediscover my bike, who helped me see the power in this hunk of aluminum and carbon. I am grateful and I am empowered. Pain will not stand in my way — I will let the voice of my father push me through, ride confidently with my team, and help bring an end to cancer.
Together we can END CANCER!
Some team members will contribute periodically throughout the season as we ramp up to Pelotonia weekend in August.