By Terry Bourgeois - Contributing Writer
Day One of the Empire State Ride was coined as Big Fun, Big Hills and Big Rain by most of the 51 riders who descended upon New York City for this seven-day adventure beginning Sunday evening.
This year riders represent 14 states and cover a very wide range of demographics and professions. On the young side, we have two men who recently completed high school and are getting ready to go to college. On the other range of the demographic spectrum, we have a soon-to-be-retired banker from Michigan.
Seventy five percent of the riders in this year’s ride are from outside of New York State and they have come for two reasons: to see the great state of New York on a bicycle and to raise funds for cancer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Despite the rain and hills, Sunday’s ride was super special for me as I had the opportunity to spend some extra time with two of our riders which probably would not have happened if it weren’t for something that went a little off-script.
Sunday morning, when we took off from City College, Kathleen and Carlos were enamored with the beauty of Central Park. They decided to take an extra loop around the park, which equated to 10 additional miles, and this put them a bit behind everyone else. It didn’t take long for the tour organizer’s web of protection to kick in and recognize that something was askew. We implemented a recovery plan. One of our New York City guides and I went back to pick up Kathleen and Carlos. I spent the rest of the day riding with the two of them. I can tell you that my day with them was inspiring and it became another testimony for why we can never stop pursuing solutions to minimize the impact that cancer has on our lives.
Kathleen was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in August 2009. She never got the common cold and was just out running one day when she felt a lump. Shortly thereafter, she received an MRI and biopsy. Paperwork was sent to Roswell and it was confirmed positive as breast cancer. In her early 40’s she had surgery, chemo therapy and radiation. In 2012, the cancer returned, and in 2014, she had three surgeries in a period of five months.
An idea came to Kathleen after last year’s Empire State Ride: If she joined, it would give her something positive to focus on while giving back to research, finding new cures and helping others.
She was back to running and ramped up her biking to prepare for this year’s ride. Unfortunately, she needed an additional surgery in June. She was worried that the surgery in June was going to keep her from doing the ride. But, Dr. Moon, her reconstruction surgeon, and Dr. Levine, her medical oncologist, said she could do the ride. They said she was crazy, but they were supportive.
Kathleen’s a fighter, she’s stubborn and she is going to keep fighting. I can tell you that she is displaying that attitude on the Empire State Ride as I witnessed her climb over 2,600 feet with a very determined smile. It was a pleasure to ride with her Sunday and as long as we stay on script, she will meet new faces in the Empire State Ride family.
Bear Mountain….. Here we come!!!!
Direction is up…… and more on Carlos later.
Riders respond very well to donations - it makes our day. To donate to one of our hero’s in the Empire State Ride please go to empirestateride.com