We finished Ride Hard Breathe Easy 2018 a little over two weeks ago, after starting from The Prep in Philadelphia and finishing in Washington DC. In between we had 30 riders and drivers join us for the 1,885-mile trek over 23 days. We went through New Hope, The Bronx, Boston, Canada (we went international!), Buffalo, Cleveland, a “flooded-out” McKeesport and Cumberland, MD to name a few cities.
We also had our first lung cancer survivor, Terri Ann, ride for four of the days and she described the experience as amazing and how she has four new lifelong friends. For me, it was hard to turn the wheels over near the end of Day Five, but my sister told me that they would be fiiiiine without me and on the train, plane and automobile I went to get home.
Over the past two years, we have traveled over 5,400 miles, and we will start planning before you know it for next year’s ride. But before we do that, we have some work to do in November with The Ride Hard Breathe Easy Challenge.
What is The Ride Hard Breathe Easy Challenge and what can you do?
Last Friday, we finished the final 18 miles and rolled into to a raucous reception in Washington, DC. Thank you to my friends at Lung Cancer Alliance for the warm welcome and for holding off the rain! It was a tough final week with bridges out, roads closed, a broken bike, lots of mud and rain for much of the ride. But with great help, great riding and lots of laughs, we finished Ride Hard Breathe Easy 2018.
The ride happened with the love and support from many people. Thank you to the riders and drivers (you know who you are) and everyone who joined the committees to put this ride together. And a special thanks to my wife, Beth. I thought of making improvements to my car, just like you will see below. And thank you to everyone who has donated this year. For those who still want to donate, you can do so by clicking HERE.
I Bet We Will Ride Again Next Year
The day after the ride finished, I returned the van up in Lancaster, PA. I then got a ride from the Uber driver, Melissa. As the two of us talked, I told her about the purpose of the bike ride and the first thing she said was that her Mom also died of lung cancer.
I am used to and yet still tired of hearing from so many people that they too know someone who has died of this disease. I see how hard The Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer work every day to make a difference and I too want to do my part for families hit by lung cancer. We all know the statistics and the need to improve outcomes for patients. And I believe what we are doing with Ride Hard Breathe Easy is helping. And if so, we will continue again next year.
So here we are in the lobby of The Best Western Plus in Rockville, MD having a beer and sharing some laughs. Andy, Gus, Pete and I have had a great three days ad excited to finish tomorrow in DC.
Today was another “Adventure” as we got another 71 miles closer to The Finish tomorrow. It was supposed to be an easy, flat tide along the bike trail. However, Mother Nature changed our plans a few days ago, roads were out, a bridge was down and roads were flooded. Again.
This morning, Gus, Andy, Pete and I took off from Cumberland, MD. 30% chance of rain…ish. Well, 30% became 100% at 8AM. So, we went back indoors for 30 minutes and then away Pete and I went. For 200 feet. The boards leading to the trail were a tad wet (duh) and my front wheel brought me, and then Pete, down. No harm no foul and we got up and rode. Through mud. And water. Yuck.
We did 10 miles and then Andy and I took off. Roads were messy, so we created our own route, and this route had HILLS. Brought me back to Missouri from last year where we had high ups and then big drops.
Uh Oh…Here come Duh Big Guns
Another 40+ miles later it was time to bring on the BIG Guns. Pete and Gus were off and they pounded through 10 miles of very flat riding. Well done, gents. Well done.
Andy and I finished up and not before two we each had a flat and my chain took a beating. Oh, and Andy ended up swallowing a few bugs. Mosquitoes were everywhere. Enough to make you puke. Or at least Andy. First time anyone has puked DURING Ride Hard Breathe Easy.
And then, riding through slop with many branches, a branch got stuck in my back wheel, de-railing my derailleur. Bike was down, walked it to our finishing point. But I did have a butterfly land on me during these troubles. Mom, I know that was you and that it made me smile.
Time to get ready to finish
We knew then it was time to go to the hotel and begin planning for tomorrow. And have a few wings, and maybe a beer.
Two days left and about 100 miles to go. We finish the ride at 11:00AM on Friday at Lung Cancer Alliance in DC. Andy, Gus, Pete and I hope to see you there!
We started this morning without wearing booties, ponchos or waterproof clothing. Felt liberating and weird since we spent the last three days surrounded by rain.
Connelsville to Cumberland
We started our trek in Connelsville, and we were on a bike trail all day. Now, there was more than a little debris and we stopped a dozen times to climb over the fallen tree limbs. But it sure beats wading through two feet of water.
We made our way east into MD and finished the day in Cumberland, MD. And for those keeping score at home, we finished our third day in Cumberland last year so it was interesting to see some of the course in reverse.
Back to School
Tonight, we will soon welcome two of my college buddies, Gus and Pete as they will help us get to DC on Friday by 11:00. Be sure to watch the finish on Facebook Live.
For the last three days, Andy Hancock and I have been pelted with rain. We have literally had three straight days of rain. People look at us as if we’re goofy as we head out each morning to ride for lung cancer patients and their families. And to put it into perspective, we had six hours of light rain all of last year during 52 days of riding.
Thank you Julie and Janis!
On Saturday and part of Sunday, Andy and I were joined by Julie Scanlon and Janis Fratamico. They rode some miles on Saturday, SAGged on Sunday and then made the 8-hour ride back on Sunday to NY (BTW, Eagles are 1-0 and Giants aren’t).
The funny thing about this ride is that the rain is not bothering us. We are here for a purpose and we have gone about 260 miles from Columbus since Saturday morning. Today, the rain wasn’t as bad, but there was considerable flooding along the route. Trees were down, streets were closed, trails were filled with debris. And we never even considered stopping.
We did go to a bike shop, Tandem Connection, for a few minor adjustments and we were warmly welcomed by Lori and Dave Poe. Thanks for your hospitality and the warm drinks. Tom McKeon and I stopped there last year and they were just as kind, fixing my tire that gave me a couple of quick flats.
Many people to think about, especially Mom
I thought of Natalie, who we rode for today. And Marian, Karen and Linda. I thought of Francis and Deena and John, who I have met over the past two years as we fight lung cancer. I thought of Evy, whose husband died of lung cancer, and she herself was diagnosed with this disease earlier this year. And I thought of many other people we have ridden for including Stephen, Gail Ann, Lori, Jeffrey, and of course, I thought of Mom.
I vividly remember how hard Mom fought while she was sick, and how much she just wanted to live, for Dad, her kids and her grandchildren. Her courage through the toughest of times lives in all of us today, and she continues to inspire me every day, especially when we ride this ride.
At the end of the day, Andy and I met two cyclists who didn’t ride at all today. It was too messy (they were correct) and they would wait until the weather and roads got better. They took the time to relax.
The Road for Lung Cancer is Tough
Well, the road for lung cancer patients is often messy, and it is always filled with challenges. We were determined to do our miles, get closer to Washington, DC and make sure we finish on Friday. I am not sure what the weather will be like on Friday, but I do know we will be there, wrapping a bow on Ride Hard Breathe Easy 2018.
There is still time to donate
So, if you have not donated yet, please consider doing so HERE. The money raised goes to Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance. They are the best of the best and fight for lung cancer patients and their families every day.
Four more days of riding, and here’s hoping that a little sunshine is heading our way!
By Janis Fratamico (great writing) and Julie Scanlon (some proofreading)
Come and Knock on my Door
The 3’s Company crowd had a great day yesterday, with John, Julie and Janis all riding in dry weather and decent conditions to get to Columbus for John’s perp walk…er..police escort into Columbus along with an interview on the local NBC station. Not so much today…
Sometimes weather forecasters are perfectly accurate
With a 100% chance of rain (continuing to Monday), we were joined by SAPer and expert rider, Andy Hancock. Andy showed up with more gear than the British Armed Forces and suited up to ride in the wet and the wind with Johnny/Jack/John. Janis and Julie worked super hard driving 10 mile increments having to not only push brake and gas pedals but also work windshield wipers. Exhausting but we powered through!!! All for a worthy cause.
Made some great progress
Even with a flat tire at the mid-point, the guys crushed 70 miles, ending their day with wrinkled fingers, drenched clothing and the shivers. Julie and I pulled out the last 10 miles so as not to look lame and have some pictures of us in the blog. Mission Accomplished.
Tomorrow is destined to be another soaker but John and Andy are up to the task. Julie and I will SAG along until it’s time for us to head back to NY for work on Monday.
What a Pleasure!
It’s truly been a privilege for us to be a part of this ride, hang out with each other and John and celebrate John’s mom’s life in such a special way. We’ll be back next year – but we are definitely checking long-term weather forecasts first!!
Final note by John…There are pictures from Friday and Saturday below..
After a long day of driving in support of the riders and then starting the ride home, Jean and I were able to stop in Monroeville (the east side of Pittsburgh), and of course watch our Eagles. Surprisingly, we really didn’t miss the game. The weather in Philly delayed the start of the game and as a result we were pulled up to the hotel as the kickoff was happening. Can’t say I wasn’t nervous as the game began. How would the Eagles play? Would they be sloppy?
Would the SUPER BOWL LII CHAMPION banner raising bother the players? Would there be a Super Bowl hangover?
Well we all know the answer now. The answers are Good Enough, Yes, Mediocre, and a resounding NO. As the Eagles had to guard against a Super Bowl hangover, I think I am going to have to guard against a RHBE Hangover.
My time as the SAGger with the SWAGGER has come to an end. It was an incredible ride both literally and figuratively. It was highly emotional. There was sadness (listening to all the stories from the tributes), there were tears (I’m not crying, you’re crying), there was A LOT of laughter (what a great group of people), there was frustration (would this damn road even out), there was exhaustion (for obvious reasons), there were moments of fear (what happens during the ride stays on the ride). I will miss the time with my group!
I learned a lot!
The things that I learned on 2018 RHBE Rider:
I learned that you are never too old to make new BFFs!
I learned that when you put 5 people with strong personalities in a confined space that interesting things can happen
I learned that it is impossible to take driving directions from multiple people at the same time (see above point)
I learned that Lake Erie is one big ass lake! And… that is one of the smaller Great Lakes
I learned that in Cleveland if it is too hot, they close the public pools… and no I have not figured that out yet.
I learned that Leah is a machine on the bike – so impressed and a little intimidated!
I learned that Leah is fascinated with Amish life
I learned that David is quite possibly MORE sarcastic than I am. For the people that know me, let that sink in for a minute!
I learned that Leah and Terri Ann are fascinated with cows
I learned that David knows how to slaughter a cow. (Yes there were some tense moments there)
I learned that Terri Ann LOVES hugs!
I learned that Jean loves to stop at wineries for taste testing (ok – I already knew that)
It is really hard to say that I learned something new about Jean other than I am constantly amazed at how lucky I am to walk through life with her by my side!
Tis better to give than receive
As children we are taught that it is better to give than to receive. While that is true, I think we should also remind everyone that when you give of yourself, there are many gifts that flow back to you. Those gifts are more valuable than trinket or bauble. Those are gifts of friendship, love and gratitude, all of which are very humbling and heart warming.
So proud to be part of a winner
Just as the the Eagles turned an impossible dream into a reality by winning Super Bowl LII, I believe that the work being done by all RHBE volunteers is trying to do the same thing – one mile at a time! I am so proud to be involved.
Question for next year???? Will the band be getting back together? Only time will tell.
Oh and one last time… E – A – G – L – E – S EAGLES!!!!!
By: Leah Fine, works for BJALCF, RHBE rider and lung cancer advocate
Lots of Adventure
Another day of adventure on Day 14 RHBE with lots of smiles, laughter and shouts of LAKE! SHADE! to keep us going.
Our route took us across northern Ohio along Lake Erie through Cleveland. Cleveland’s beautiful parks provided us much needed shade and respite from the oppressive heat – Strava said it was 97 degrees! We even heard that they closed the local schools and pools!
“SAGgers with Swagger” Kevin & Jean deliver the highest level of service driving “Prison Van” full of drinks, food, sunscreen, chilled towels and of course keeping us safe. (Trust me, I’m spoiled and I don’t know how I’ll return to cycling without these two!)
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a SAG-er (SAG = Support And Gear) with Swagger? It’s kind of like being a butler at an all inclusive tropical resort. Except you are not in paradise, and there are a LOT less requests for alcoholic beverages (at least by the cyclists).
We started our day at 7:30, meeting in front of the hotel to pack “Prison Van” (yes, our vehicle was given an “affectionate” name this week) with luggage and anything else the cyclists didn’t want to tote along on their 80 mile trek today. We coerced Kevin into doing the Facebook live event, choosing a gorgeous lake view as the backdrop. Choosing a meeting location 20 miles out, the riders, Leah, Terri Ann, and David, were off! Breakfast, coffee and checkout later, we were on the way to the meeting point.
A Much Better Riding Day
The riders had a better day today, with no extreme stretches of bad roads, and no blowouts! Woohoo! The meet ups consist of water replenishment, protein snacks, and anything else the riders might need to get on the road. We took lunch orders and sent them in their way. (This job is also like being a team mom!)
Into Ohio for a grocery store run for water, Gatorade and protein bars, and finding a local deli for sandwiches (Philly area delis and Amorosos, we miss you!!!) took up ALL the time and we rushed to get the lunch to the riders. Once they were off Kevin and I headed to Township Park in Geneva-On-the-Lake to have our lunch with spectacular views of Lake Erie.
Spreading the word..
We also managed a visit to Sunset Harbor Bar and Grille while waiting to meet up at the end of the ride. At each stop we spread the word about the ride and it’s purpose and try to get people to visit the RHBE.org website to learn, donate or join the effort in November.
To the Beach!
The day wound up at one last beach, Headlands Beach in Mentor, OH. Another beautiful spot and Leah and Terri Ann cooled off with a jump in Lake Erie!
Looking forward to some dinner and another fantastic day tomorrow!