My first stop for Pelotonia 2014 was on Friday, August 8 at the check-in area. This gentleman was so appreciative of me riding. I was appreciative of him volunteering his time. I shared my story with him. I told him I was riding both days, it was the least I could do after all the James did for Claud when she had breast cancer. He shared his story. About 7 years ago his wife wasn't feeling well. They went to a hospital here in Columbus and she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The doctors told her to get her affairs together, she had just a few months to live. They left that hospital and went to the James. The James immediately took her in and began treatment on her. She was able to live another 18 months thanks to the care at the James. This man was so thankful of the extra time he was given to spend with her, all thanks to the James. As my eyes welled up, I told him thank you again so much for volunteering, I appreciate it, and I moved on to the next area. Good Lord, I hadn't even started riding yet and I was already getting emotional.
My next stop was to pick up my swag bag. Lots of awesome goodies!
Tesla car at the opening ceremony decked out in the Pelotonia insignia.
The above five photos are from the Friday night opening ceremony. Beautiful weather and a huge turnout!
Me, Dan, and his friend Bob, at the opening ceremony dinner on Friday night. I was looking forward to riding with these guys the next day. Unfortunately they started in a different coral and I never got the chance to ride with them. But I did ride with Craig and Jen (you'll see them later) and their friends on Saturday.
Lots of goodies from the swag bag. Sweet looking jersey!
These came in handy on Saturday and Sunday for a quick sugar rush during the ride.
My buddies, Bob and Craig, loading the bikes at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Me, Craig, and Jen - Bob dropped us off and took this pic just before we headed over to the start.
Start line, 6:45 a.m. Saturday.
Waiting for the ride to begin!
First rest stop was at mile 25.
How do 7,000+ riders fill their water bottles? With these giant water jugs!
I'm enjoying hanging out at the back of the group, letting them pull me along (that's Craig in front of me). We're on our way to the lunch stop.
Lunch at the Bob Evan's Headquarters! The food was fantastic!
Inside the lunch tent. Lots of people, lots of great food!
Granville rest stop. More on this below.
After lunch we headed towards Granville. As we made our way into Granville, the town had come out in full force. The streets were lined with people clapping, yelling, cheering, ringing cow bells - all for us. It was incredible to see so many people out there supporting us. We continued through town and stopped at Granville Middle School for food. This was by far the best food stop on the ride. They had loads of volunteers who took my bottles and filled them for me. The majority of the snacks and food were homemade.
The rest stop after the 400 meter climb which had an average grade of about 12-14% and topped out at 18%.
Only 20 miles to go on Day 1!
Day 1 finish line!
Day 1 finish line!
Dinner under the tent at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.
Our "dorm" for the night. Plenty of space inside and we (Me, Craig, and two other guys) each got our own room.
Breakfast on Sunday morning, thank you Bob Evans!
At the starting line for Day 2, fog just lifting. I think it's a pretty cool shot.
Guess who led the second group out on Day 2? It was nice being out front, I got to pick my own line and didn't have to worry about going around slower riders. And it gave me some time to reflect. As I rode alone early Sunday morning, I thought about Claud, her battle with cancer, and how many years she has now been cancer free.
A Day 2 rest stop.
Hooked up with a few other riders on Sunday's ride back to Columbus. I stayed and worked with these guys for a bit. You can see on the back of this guy's jersey is a small card. Some people put it on the bag under their seat, some on their jersey. Pelotonia likes us to wear this as it has our emergency contact info on it. But it also has our name on it. So as I passed riders throughout the day, or as guys fell back after taking a pull on the front, I'd look at their i.d. card and say something to them: "Nice job, John!" Or "Great pull, Tom!" A guy named Jason, who probably rode about 60 of the 80 miles with me on Sunday, asked, "Do you know that guy we just passed?" I chuckled and told him yesterday I rode with friends, but I didn't know a single person I was riding with today. I just look at their name tag, call them by their name and offer some encouragement, a little something to keep them going, especially on days like this when it's so hot. Jason said, "Oh, ok, because man, I thought, this guy knows a lot of people."
Another beautiful day for a ride in the country.
Another Day 2 rest stop. It was starting to get hot, so I spent some time sitting and relaxing.
After that rest stop, I caught up with these three guys. As I approached them, I noticed something on this guy's jersey. When I got close enough, I saw it said, 'Survivor.' Oh shit. For some reason I got really nervous. What do I say to this guy? The rider instinct in me took over and I asked how they were doing, are they having a good ride, enjoying the day, that kind of stuff. The four of us rode for awhile and then we came to a small town. We slowed just a bit but didn't have to stop or unclip from our pedals because the police did an awesome job of stopping traffic for us so we could roll on through the town (they actually did this on the entire route both days and every time I rode passed them I told them thank you). As we navigated through the town at a slower, more conversational pace, I got up the nerve to ask James the question (I knew that was his name because his i.d. was on his seat post under his bag).
"So James, how many years?"
He looked at me and smiled. "About 4 1/2, no wait, it's more like 5 years now."
Me: That's great, man. All tests are coming back clean?
James: Yeah, all tests results have been good.
Me: What kind of cancer was it?
James: Colon. They found the cancerous area, removed about 5-6 inches and stitched me back up.
I shared my story about why I ride and how much I appreciated all the work from the nursing staff and doctors at the James. He too was very appreciative of all the people who helped him.
James was a great guy to talk to on the ride. The guy in front of him is also a survivor but I didn't get a chance to chat with him until we got to New Albany and were having lunch. He had to sit out Pelotonia one year because of his chemo treatments but he is happy to be back on the bike now. And I'll tell you what, that guy could hammer (that means he could go fast and he did so for a looong time).
Hangin' out at the back, all smiles.
Last rest stop on Day 2. I stayed at this stop for awhile too. It was nice to sit in the shade and just take in the day. Some of the guys I was riding with kept calling out to me asking if I was ready to go. I told them to go ahead, I'd see them at the finish. Truth is, I didn't really want to go. I knew I had about another hour on the bike and then the ride would be over, and I hate that. I love this event: the ride, the people, the support from friends and family, and I didn't want the weekend to end.
Finish line in New Albany.
A colleague of mine took this just after I crossed the finish line. The guy in front of me is Jason. He rode with me for about 60 of the 80 miles on Sunday.
Just off the bike. That's my buddy Greg behind me in the "One Goal" t-shirt. His wife, Kelley, is the Chief Operating Officer of Pelotonia.
All smiles after 80 miles! That's James behind me.
Craig found me and doused me with water!
Me and Kelley. She did a fantastic job running the event this year!
As I said earlier, I love everything about this event. It's purpose, the people I meet, the ride, the support from all of you.... When I crossed the finish line in New Albany the ride was done. Sure, there was the food and hanging out with people afterwards, but eventually I had to head home. It's always difficult when this weekend is over. The energy and enthusiasm from everyone is incredible. It always takes a few days to come down off the Pelotonia weekend high.
In just a little over a month, Pelotonia will announce the total funds raised for this year's ride. I'll let you know what the total is when it's announced.
Thank you so much for your support this year, I appreciate it!