By: Patrick Matthews (has ridden 6 days of RHBE and will finish by my side in San Fran)
I remember the first official blog Jack (a.k.a. John) had regarding Ride Hard. Breathe Easy (RHBE). It was November 2, 2016, on Mom’s birthday from her home town, Straide, County Mayo, Ireland. Although not a tourist attraction, Mom and Dad always made it a must-stop, because that’s where family is.
From Saturday to Wednesday, my son Tommy, father-in-law Denny Kee (Dad Kee) and I accompanied Jack during his journey across the country. Our leg was from Gunnison, CO to near Monticello, UT. The 220+ miles we covered on a bike included some of the most breathtaking scenery in the US and Tommy has hundreds of pictures to prove it. As Jack’s plans were developing for RHBE, I mentioned to Dad Kee that I was thinking about trying to bike with him a couple days. Dad Kee did what he always does and asked, “How can I help?”. He was the lead SAGger with help from Tommy. The care and support they provided was awesome.
While our trip was five days in total, the first and last day were essentially travel days. The core days of our trip were from Sunday to Tuesday, when we got ready together, set the plan for the day, biked / SAGged, took hundreds of pictures, had numerous high-fives after each climb, had dinner and a pint and looked forward to the day ahead. The weather on these three days was terrific. Thanks Mom and Dad!
When biking with Jack during the three days, I was generally doing one of five things:
- Grimacing that I was already in the lowest gear possible when making some of the climbs
- Going down the mountain and trying not to go too fast (like 46 mph) while trying to enjoy the incredible scenery; It’s not as easy as you think
- Telling myself the next leg is just ‘one loop’; a 12-mile ride that Tom and I do at home
- Looking for the SAG-wagon as we near the end of a leg; there was no better scene in the Rockies then approaching the “Big White Van” with Dad Kee and Tommy cheering us in
- Reminding myself of why I am riding and how much I miss Mom
As I have learned since Mom’s diagnosis in 2011, lung cancer is the number one cancer killer by a lot and the survival rate is unacceptable. That’s why Jack rides — to make a difference. “Men for Others”
On Tuesday morning before we started riding, Jack showed me an e-mail he received from our cousin, Mary Dalton from England who reminded us that “those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day”. I can tell you, Mom and Dad were riding with us all three days.
Over Jack’s 52-day bike ride, he will have had 35 family members be there for him, either at the start, during the ride or at the finish. It is evident that RHBE has developed an extended family as well with countless supporters, from ride committee members, riders, SAGgers, and those following along the daily blog.
Jack was great to ride with. He knew when I need some help and told me to draft behind him, essentially pulling me along the road. When I needed more help, that’s when Mom and Dad provided the support, as they have done for me for 47 years.
Go Jack! See you in San Francisco.