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.
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!
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!)
For those of you who know about Allen Iverson, he held one of the greatest press conferences in Philadelphia sports history.
“Practice, we’re talking about practice?” To get a glimpse of Allen at his best, take a look here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGDBR2L5kzI.
As for me, I will start MY real practice (or training) in earnest in February, so today, we’re talking about progress. Yup, we’re talking about progress!
We’re talking about progress!
This bike ride planning started four months ago with a couple of discussions and calls, and each conversation inspired me more. New ideas, excitement to help, people I never met joining to help and boy, did we make progress. It seems that EVERYONE has been impacted by cancer, so this planning is a way for people to fight cancer. So “Ride Hard. Breathe Easy.” is a chance for all of us to come together, fight lung cancer and make a difference, and here are some of the key areas where we have made significant progress
We have an amazing team of 20 people working on the plan.
We have a mission statement that captures the essence of what we are doing. “Raise awareness and fund research for lung cancer in memory of Kathleen Matthews”.
We have a dedicated Steering Committee, three other committees (The Ride, Communications and Connecting the World) and another one coming (fund raising and sponsorship).
We have a route mostly picked out with three major stops planned. And we have discussed what is needed in our support vehicle.
Google Drive is what we will use to share documents.
This blog has been seen in 6 countries (USA, Germany, Ireland, Canada, England and Mexico). So start telling your friends in New Zealand, Japan, China, Peru and anywhere else so we can all “Connect the World” to this ride.
Many hands make light work
Through the end of January, we will continue to add ideas (some big and some small), and we will then settle in, decide what matters most and go after it. We will have a full six months to fine tune our plan and make sure that we go safely and in good health across this great country. And in just 11 days we will turn the page to 2017 and talk about “Ride Hard. Breathe Easy.” happening “this year”.
So to Beth, Tom, Pat, Julie, Sam, Chelsea, Eric, Matt, David, Chris, Dave, Sebastian, Laurie, Janis, Christine, Rick, Paul, Tone, Katie and Karen, I say THANK YOU, THANK YOU and THANK YOU. Your many hands truly do make light work (a famous saying from Mom). And to the other people who are ready to join our committees (John, Barb, Mary and Kim), we welcome your new ideas and your help. And to the people in the biking community we have already talked with (Bob, Nick, Lucas and Dan), I say thanks for your advice.
“Ride Hard. Breathe Easy.” is for you, Mom
Mom, “Ride Hard. Breathe Easy” is about giving back, and helping all lung cancer patients. You and Dad taught our family to love, to be kind and to help others. And this ride (it’s not a race) will be a shining example of how we live what you taught us as we help others. Fighting lung cancer is important to our family, and we will continue to fight until a cure is found.
And to everyone who sees this blog, I can use your help. Do you know anyone who has gone on really long bike rides? The ride will have a support vehicle and we will want to pick the best person for the job. Anyone want to ride across country next August? I have an uncle who used to be a bus driver, but, alas, he has retired.
Also, do you know anyone who have been impacted by lung cancer who can help spread the word? And since the money raised in “Ride Hard. Breathe Easy.” will mainly go to fund personalized medicine for lung cancer, do you know anyone interested in learning more about personalized medicine? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please invite them to follow the blog and join the conversation next year.
In 2017, we will tie these aspects and more together on future blogs so we get additional bike ride advice, hear from lung cancer patients and discuss the importance of personalized medicine.
And finally, thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I encourage you to send your feedback or ask questions. I feel fortunate to have such a dedicated group of people to plan this effort.
You will see the next blog in mid-January, and I hope that you and your family enjoy the holidays!