I don’t necessarily enjoy cycling with other people. Introversion is my thing – being alone, the “company of one.” I do enjoy cycling with Sue, my wife, because we know each other so well that it’s like biking by myself.
But every year, we ride in the Scenic Shore 150, A two-day bike ride that starts in Milwaukee and ends 150 miles or so north in Door County, Wisconsin. The route follows Lake Michigan, which is both scenic and less humid. More importantly, the event is a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; this year, everyone raised a total of $1,343,659 for blood-cancer research. Sue’s Mom, Gayle, died several years ago from complications associated with leukemia, so we always ride in her honor.
That’s what makes it such an interesting social event. We ride in honor of Gayle, one person who was impacted by cancer. But everyone is pretty much riding for that one person in their life who was, or is, affected by cancer. We rode with cancer survivors, with people who know friends and family who are fighting cancer, and people like us who ride in memory of those who have passed. It’s an odd blend of emotions, to enjoy cycling, the good food, the beer, the scenery – and the company of those who have also experienced devastating loss.
There’s also a good number of folks who do this ride that are not regular cyclists. You can tell they’re physically hurting by the end of the second day. But all that pain quickly dissipates when they cross the finish line, get their finisher’s medal, eat some food, drink some beer, and continue to engage with the other cyclists who rode for this common cause.
I find cycling to be one of the most meaningful activities I engage in. Raising money for blood-cancer research just makes it all the more meaningful.
David Howell is the author of The Descent into Happiness: A Bicycling Journey Over the Cascades and Rockies and across the Great Plains, published by Blue Ear Books.