Monday, March 16, 2009

Here is my story!

I got my first bike when I was around 4; it was a pink banana seat bike with a cute little white basket with a daisy on it. I loved that little bike. I rode it all over the place it felt like, but really, I just rode in the dead end street where we lived and down the street, never to go into the busy street. I laugh at that now, being so scared when cars were driving on the street. That changed.
Then in the fourth grade I got the most gorgeous bicycle I had ever seen. It was a royal blue metallic Nishiki ten speed. I had moved up in the world. I no longer peddled backwards to stop and had a whole host of gears to learn to ride with. That did not stop me though. A few quick lessons and I was off, setting goals of riding the Tour de France. Haha! I look back now and see so many reasons why that was not going to happen.
There is something about the freedom those two wheels afforded me. As soon as I crossed that barrier and ventured onto that busy street that intersected our street and rode around the block, I was hooked. I could go on any adventure I wanted to. Oh the stories that bike could tell.
Hours would be spent on that bike. Even the summer I slid down a big hill on tiny loose gravels wearing my circa 1980 terrycloth shorts. Who knew picking those little gravels out of my thigh would hurt more than the road rash I acquired when I hit that pavement?
Then my Dad upgraded from his 3-speed beach comber type bike to a grey 10-speed. We were unshackled and we rode all over the place! Literally in my little 5th grade mind, we were exploring the world, riding for hours. I remember my Dad sweaty with little gnats stuck to his face. We smelled like sweat and fresh air all at the same time and it was great! We would stop and play at the park or sit under a tree at the neighborhood church and watch the shapes in clouds as they would roll over. It was me and my Dad and we were exploring uncharted worlds.
Now fast forward a few years to 2003, that grand 10-speed gained a new owner somewhere along the way. I grew up and out and briefly left the love of riding a bicycle. Then one day my partner and I decided to go get mountain bikes, because surely a road bike could not hold that much weight. A good stepping stone, we thought.
I love that bike, even have a sticker that says “I (heart) my bike”. The first ride, brought me back to those liberating wonderful feelings I had when I was a kid. My hair no longer flying free with the wind, because it was now protected by a plastic covered Styrofoam helmet. But the wind in my face and sun in my eyes made me feel like a kid again.
It was to be a short ride, just through the park and around (later driven in the car to discover it was 4.5 miles), but it took longer than expected. Oops, no bottle cage and no youthful bodies. It took us four hours stopping at water fountains in the parks and a lot of walking, but we loved it and after getting gel seats we continued riding. We took many adventures and we have some great stories about our experiences on our bikes, some involving an ER, ice packs and all sorts of pictures to prove it.
Again we fast-forward to January 2009. We already suspected the news we were all about to hear. My Dad was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer. My world began to spin; my head was spinning, everything was out of focus! I went through the whole reliving all the wonderful things we did from sharing my first room service of fresh fruit at the beach while everyone slept, to softball, graduation, and on and on and then our bike rides.
Through the help of the many loving people in my life, my head has stopped spinning. Cancer is not new to our family. Some friends and family have survived and are surviving their lives with cancer and in remission, my uncle surviving multiple bouts of various types of cancer. Still yet many others are in memory, a great-grandmother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, cousin and friends have all moved onward after their time living with cancer. So I knew cancer, but still it is my Dad!
So I sat with him, went with him to appointments, talked, sat and tried to absorb what I could to hold in memory. Leaving him each time feeling as though there was something more I could do. Still the memories of or bike rides kept coming up.
Lance Armstrong is a popular figure in our family. I remember watching him in triathlons and of course the Tour de France. I read his two books, “It’s Not About The Bike” and “Every Second Counts” years ago. I bought a yellow Livestrong bracelet when they first came out. However, it was moved to hanging on my book-bag and not on my wrist.
Still struggling with what to do next, I remembered Lance Armstrong has a foundation. I hopped online and checked it all out, knowing the Livestrong Foundation hosts a series of 5Ks and bike rides in the U.S.. Because of all the support they provide to people living with cancer, their families and to research, I felt this is a great place to have another focus.
Here is where my journey on a bike takes another step. To date since my days of youth, the furthest I’ve ridden is 15 miles. Now, I’ve signed up for a 45 mile bike ride in Philadelphia, PA, in August 2009. In honor of my Dad and our rides together and for my uncle still full of life and in memory of the many others. Because I know I am not alone in this life involving cancer I started this blog More Than A Ride at Because I know it is going to go far beyond the ride. Now we are on this journey together. Changing our world one revolution at a time!


  1. Thank you for sharing so deeply Rhonda. This was very inspiring to read. I am a thyroid cancer survivor, and yet decades lost my Mom to lung cancer. Lance is also an inspiration to me as I know he is to the world. Thank you for what is More Than A Ride!

  2. Thank you for sharing Margaret! I appreciate your courage to persevere. Thanks for joining the blog!