A Ride with Heart - PPRAC
The following article was in a cycling blog that Jay subscribes to. It mentions our very own Dadmo!
October 16, 2007
A Ride With Heart
Pedaling across a state is hard, but it's nothing compared to the fight against cancer.
By Christine Bucher
At the end of July, I rode in the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer. It's a biannual event, started in 1983 by an everyman saint named Bob Freed. It raises money to benefit a local chapter of the American Cancer Association and a few other charities.
Those were 500-plus eye-opening miles. It's amazing that you can live in a state for most of your life and not see most of it. I had never been to Erie, the ride's starting point, nor seen the first oil well in the United States, near Titusville. It's amazing what you'll find along the road: an enormous, hip-high carved wooden rattlesnake ready to strike; a rusted-out school bus attached to a trailer, obviously someone's residence; one of the darkest spots in the eastern United States, Cherry Springs State Park; and a bakery with just three kinds of cookie, but all three warm from the oven.
It's also amazing who you meet. Walking to find a bar (hey, it's not all riding) in the small town of Warren one afternoon, my little group asked for directions from a blond woman walking past. She told us how to get to Snuffy's and continued on her way. We reached Snuffy's, found it was closed, and kept walking and ran into the same woman. Turns out her brother was an avid cyclist "the Lance Armstrong of Warren," she said, and had recently died of cancer.
At another town, we were fed, no, make that stuffed, by the Coudersport American Legion. There must have been 20 salads, from green to pasta to bean, as well as steamer trays of burgers and brats. Several of the ladies in the kitchen were cancer survivors, and one had found out the day we passed through town that she was cancer-free. It was hard to find a dry eye in our crowd of riders, but maybe that's because my own eyes were so moist.
But the best part of the ride was probably meeting my fellow riders. Cycling abilities varied, but every single person was an inspiration, from Bill, who rode for his son who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, to Barry, a grandfather who rode a heavy, heavy hybrid up some pretty nasty hills, to Deana, who modified her bike to compensate for some lingering problems caused by Lyme disease. Kelly was riding for her brother Tom, who had died just three months before the ride at age 25 of cancer. Brian, the life of and soul of any group, rode for his dad, who succumbed to cancer in 2001. Eric lost both of his parents to cancer while he was still in his teens. Everyone had a story, someone close to them who had died or been profoundly touched by cancer.
But these tragedies dimmed no one's spirits. This ride was a celebration of life and determination. Eric, our map guy, found some tough hills for us to climb, but really, what's a hill compared to weeks of chemo? We ride because we can, and because pain, sweat and an achy back just might help someone in more serious need.
The next PPRAC is in 2009. Our fund-raising will put the ride over the million-dollar mark for cumulative dollars raised. That's a lot of money, a lot of miles, and a lot of heart.