June is for laying back, taking a break from racing, and doing something good in this world. Like riding bikes for a long time to prevent cancer.
I’ve been riding a lot this year, piling on just over 6,000 miles (note, not the nautical kind) in 2018, spending much of that time astride my 3T Exploro with various wheelset arrangements. If you’ve been following along, you already know I ride that thing everywhere, from pavement to gravel to trails. But after all that riding and all those miles, it’s just about time to come off the gas a little. Relax.
After Racing for Home this Sunday, I’m taking my usual mid-season rest and heading south for a two-day fundraising ride for LessCancer.org. Over June 23 and 24, over 100 riders will make the 238-mile ride from Flint to Traverse City to raise money and for cancer prevention. Through educating individuals and families, providing resources for health professionals, and through legislative advocacy at the state and federal level, Less Cancer strives to push prevention alongside efforts to find a cure, with a strong belief in the benefits of reducing carcinogens in our everyday environment.
Our Traverse City contingent includes nearly 20 riders who will load up and head south to Flint in the wee hours of Saturday morning before mounting up and joining over 100 others for the 134-mile first leg from Michigan State University’s Flint Campus to Merrill Lake Park in Barryton. The next morning, we’re going to try really hard not to miss the 31st Annual Cancer and Survivor’s Picnic, which will be 104 miles away when we roll out of the park on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been affected by cancer. Everyone I know has a friend or loved one who has battled with the disease, and more often than not, they have multiple people in their lives who’ve struggled or lost. It’s costly. It’s devastating. It’s exhausting. Cures have been elusive and expensive, and the idea of prevention needs to be more of a focus at every level of our society. From families to doctors, to lawmakers and researcher, looking at chemical, dietary, and even genetic factors to identify and address cancer risk factors deserves more attention and focus.
In every cycling community, we’ve lost friends. In Traverse City, we lost Mark Dressler a few years ago to a type of cancer that, when caught early, may have been perfectly treatable. Mark was one of the first people in town to take me for a ride after I moved back home after college. I remember it very well; he was late. He showed up in a vintage maglia rosa with the fervor of the Giro still pumping in his veins, with May giving way to June, right around this time of year. Mark, myself, and our friend Tim Bottrell rode a route that, to this day, is a staple in town and is called the Dressler 30 in his honor. Mark is one of the many people we’ll be thinking about on June 23 and 24.
The miles I can certainly handle. It’s the camping that I’m apprehensive about. I haven’t slept in a place without access to a grounded outlet in about a decade; I live my life by the light of a dozen digital screens at any given second. Where do I charge my phone or my GPS head unit? What if someone in my tent snores? And since we’ll be in a campground with many sites crammed into a small area, what if someone in another tent snores? You can’t reach out and throttle someone that far away. Luckily, most of the logistics are going to be taken care of for is, including transportation of camping equipment, food (even the cooking of it!), and personal items by Keen Technical Solutions. I’m hoping they let me plug my phone into a cigarette lighter or something.
It’s a good ride. For a good cause. And you can help by joining the ride yourself or making a donation to someone who has already committed. It wouldn’t hurt to bring a phone charger, either.