Bike ride honors cancer survivors

By Clyde Davis

I am looking forward to the Ride for the Roses, our long distance bicycling effort in mid-October. This is a cancer fundraising event, whereby the riders take pledges for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer causes, survivor issues, and people living through and beyond cancer. Self-evident from the name, it is the project of pro cyclist Armstrong.

The reason I am looking forward to this event is that I will see some of my heroes. No, not Lance Armstrong or Scott Hamilton or Jan Ullrich or any of the other professional athletes who might show up. Nope, not Sheryl Crow or JoDee Messina or any of the other famous entertainers who might be seen, either. I am too old and too jaded to have heroes like that. They’re just good people.

My heroes are people like Janice Davis, who through the surgery and the chemo, the radiation and all the months of weakness and seemingly endless recovery, never left the side of her husband. Janice, whose heart must have felt at times like it was breaking, but who maintained faith and hope. Hers was the first and really the only face I saw when I crossed the end of ride line last year.

My heroes are people like the little boy I saw when we were lining up to start — he was wearing a baseball cap and the yellow “Survivor” tag on his jersey — the ball cap to cover his chemo-depleted hair. He was riding a tandem bike with his dad … Does anything tear you up more than childhood illness?

My heroes are people like the lady with the yellow survivor tag, with whom I visited at one of the rest stations, who shared with me her story about 10 years free of breast cancer, and showed me her pink 18 speed that her son had custom painted, and how she had trained to ride 70 miles but dropped to 40 due to the weather. Did I mention that she was 73 years old?

My heroes are people like the 50-something man with the incredibly powerful shoulders and arms, who lost one leg in an accident and who has a specially made bicycle that — you guessed it — he powers by using his arms. Or every yellow-tagged person who passed me, or whom I passed, who raised a fist in triumph and yelled “Go, survivor!”
Or the survivor who, along with his dad, had committed to ride 100 miles and who was still pedaling in the wind and the rain long after most of us had come in from shorter rides.

Janice and I will both be riding this year, and are actively seeking pledges for our rides. Nearly every life has been touched by cancer, some more tragically than others, and you may feel led to pledge your support to us. You can find out more about the Lance Armstrong Foundation by checking its Web site. You can contact us about pledges, corporate or individual, by e-mail or phone. You might even feel like dusting off your bike and riding yourself — you still have time to train. And who knows, you might see some of your heroes.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at:
clyde_davis@yahoo.com