The first Sunday in June is approaching quickly. Brilliant warm days, vacations not far away, schools out soon, and, dare I say it, it is time for The 5th Annual Bike Ride for Amy. Now, I know what you are saying…. “Oh those wonderful people, raising money to provide free breast cancer screening, right in our community.” “Aren’t they the ones who have paid for over 1000 local mammograms for women without health insurance?” “I wonder how many lives the Amy Foundation saved this year?” Ah, easy for you, all you need to do is donate. But alas, they actually expect me to ride.
The dreaded phone call came from Arie Behar, who runs the Foundation in honor of his wonderful wife Amy, who died of breast cancer six years ago. He wants to be certain I will be there again this year. Despite my performance in the last four events not only does he want me to show up, he wants me to ride. I can only figure he needs someone to bring up the rear and to set such a low standard that everyone else will be thrilled with their performance.
I tried my usual style of negotiation during Arie’s call. Begging. I would have used the old “I need root canal” excuse, but my dentist tells me that I have had so many voluntary get-out-of-obligations root canals, that one more and I may not be able to walk. Desperation having fallen on deaf ears, I suggested there may be a financial level which if I passed, I could opt out of actually getting on the bike. Arie said there was something inspiring about Amy’s doctor participating in the ride… I really fail to see what can be inspiring about a grown man crying while gliding down hill.
Last year was memorable. First, my bicycle seemed to have been the source of some embarrassment. OK, they did not make ultra light multi geared wind tunnel proven electric blue rocket machines in the 1930s. There was a heated discussion about having me finish at an alternative location, to avoid the press. Fortunately, I completed the ride at 10:15pm in the pitch dark, and so eluded embarrassment. A valuable sports fact I learned that day is if you are going to be straddling a bike seat for 14 hours, do not wear a Speedo.
Therefore, I contacted Michelle in Arie’s office who often seems to have sympathy for my suffering. I noted on the website that there were three bike routes from which to chose. The 25-mile that is ”very flat, easy for all levels.” It was on this route last year that a 5 year old with training wheels passed me … twice. A 35-mile ride that is more challenging. In addition, a 50-mile route rated as “very challenging” with 2,700 feet of climb. I have it on good authority that during that ride, they can actually see the aurora borealis. Anyway, I asked Michelle if there was a roll-around-the parking-lot-downhill-and-finish-without-actually-pedaling route. Let me just say that she was less than supportive, indicating that I would need to pick one of the three. Tough crowd, no mercy there.
Thus, I found myself turning to the memory of Amy for advice. I recalled that she had been one of the toughest cancer fighters I ever met. This remarkable person took on the dread disease like a tiger. At the same time, she gave support and love to her family and friends. She was a powerful example to all that knew her of what a survivor, mother, wife, humanitarian and woman can be. Amy truly loved life and it is her spirit that leads the fight forward. She is why we ride.
Therefore, Sunday June 3, 2012 at 8:00am (7:00am check-in) at South Brunswick High School, I will get back on that bike. I did have it upgraded – tires, chain, speedometer, derailleur, rat-traps, extra large water bottle, NOS booster, double indemnity life insurance policy and air bags. Arie is shipping a special extra cool bicycler shirt, just for me. I strongly suspect that the front of the shirt will say “DANGER, RUN FOR LIFE” and the back will urge the reader to “PLEASE PUSH.”
Riders really welcome. It is an inspiring and special morning. See you there.