Photos by OHventures
The old phrase "it's like riding a bike" probably wasn't referring to riding a 100-mile bike ride across Northeast Ohio. Unlike that phrase suggests, riding 100 miles is no easy feat - something I learned firsthand while participating on July 18, 2015 in the second annual VeloSano Bike to Cure.
This epic fundraising event was held in Cleveland, with over 2,000 cyclists signed up to raise money in the months leading up to their bike rides. Each cyclist was required to gather a certain amount of donations according to whichever distance they committed to pedal (12, 25, 50, 100, 179, or 207) - all of which would go towards funding cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.
The health system where I am employed started its own team to rally for the cause. Our team consisted of 27 caregivers, all of whom opted for varying distances. Being the daredevil I am, with my ever-growing bucket list on hand, I signed up to ride 100 miles (joining just 1 other individual on my team who was going this distance). We all had matching jerseys which I thought made us look like superheroes!
Do I look like the green Power Ranger with my bike jersey?
However, no matter what distance anyone rode, we were all there to push ourselves to the limit and put ourselves under physical pressure - a small feat compared to what anyone who has ever lived with cancer has had to go through during treatment, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Knowing individuals in my life who have personally suffered from various forms of cancer - and working at a hospital system - has given me a glimpse of the struggles cancer patients endure. They are incredibly brave and strong to go through what they do, so I was more than happy to tackle the 100 mile course.
This required me to raise $1,500. Thanks to the many others who also have experienced the pains of cancer in their own lives, I was able to reach my goal (and then some). I asked each person who donated to give me a name of an individual they knew who is a survivor or victim of cancer, and I would place their name on my jersey as a reminder as to why I ride.
At the kickoff party on Friday, June 17 (ocated at Mall B in downtown Cleveland), there was a "WHY I RIDE" wall in which I also wrote each person's name. It was powerful to see that wall fill up with names and reasons that people have chosen to be there. It was clear that this was not just any ordinary bike ride.
The kickoff party also gave me the opportunity to hear from US Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, who was there to share his family's story of cancer, and also to drive a pace car the next morning. To top things off, he even decided to ride 50 miles himself! It was an honor to see him there. It was also very tear-jerking to watch a very compelling movie on the big screen where survivors of cancer (referred to as LIVING PROOF) spoke about why they were choosing to ride and why VeloSano was such an important event.
Things were also more lighthearted at the kickoff party. I got the chance to meet the Cleveland Indians mascot, Slider (who would have to be my second favorite Slider after my dog), take a team photo, eat some grub catered by Zach Bruell Events, listen to tons of live music, pet a potbelly pig named Zumi who was a virtual rider, and even appear on the evening news (WKYC) as I was checking my bike in (I didn't know I was being filmed, but many people told me they saw me on air!).
At the start line at 7:30 AM with my fellow Century Riders!
After staying overnight at my friend's house in Willoughby Hills, it was time to start our bike ride nice and early at 7:30 AM. The 100-milers were pedaling the farthest distance you could for the 1-Day routes. They needed to start us early so we wouldn't be riding when the sun went down. I estimated I would finish the ride in about 8 hours, but you'll soon see how wrong I was!
Despite recent rainy weather, it was a beautiful sunny day all day for our ride - perhaps a little TOO sunny. When the horn blew and our race began, the sun was just rising and there was a pleasant breeze from the Lake Erie air. We weaved through downtown Cleveland with police located at each intersection for the first few miles of our ride. This allowed us to surpass any red lights or stop signs so we could make a swift exit from the busy city roadways.
Our route was taking us east near Cleveland Heights and Beachwood, then eastward in a giant circle through or near Orange, Chagrin Falls, Solon, Aurora, back north to Burton and Chardon, then back west through Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties until we reached Shaker Heights and came back to downtown Cleveland.