July 11th, 2020 – 5 days until starting the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Me and my older brother Zach.
You may wonder what in the world went through my head when deciding to bike 2500 miles. Well, it’s pretty simple really. I wanted to live on my bike, simplify life, escape from the fear of Covid and reconnect with nature.
But deep down there was more to it. This last year has been an absolute shit show. I mean shit raining out of the sky all over my family and this world with no umbrella in sight. First there was my brothers cancer diagnosis, followed my a personal diagnosis of a few autoimmune diseases which led to losing my job, serious racial inequality and the Black Lives Matter movement, oh, and let’s not forget the Pandemic.
Needless to say, I needed to escape and breathe! And for anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m the most relaxed and happy while riding my bike.
Picture: Me and Corinne LaBella posing for the start of an MTB endurance race, summer 2019. Corinne and Becky Schmitz (not pictured) will be along for the ride during this journey.
A little backstory:
In 2019, my brother Zach was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal cancer, meaning the cancer had started in the Colon and had moved to other vital organs of his body. He was 38 when diagnosed. Seriously!!!??? Who gets Stage 4 colon cancer at 38?
I will never forget the day I received a phone call, informing me that Zach had a tumor and he was feeling very, very sick. I was living in Idaho at the time and the pull was so strong to be there with him, I packed up the apartment and moved to Iowa within 3 days, frantically rushing to make it in time for my brothers Wedding.
Zach and Adrienne (my now sister in love) pushed the wedding forward a month due to his diagnosis.
Since being diagnosed, Zach has been through 21 rounds of chemotherapy. For anyone familiar with chemo, imagine 21 rounds with only a month break in a period of a year. Imagine!
Picture: Zach staying positive and safe during his 21st round.
I digress. So, why would I ride this route, the longest Gravel Bike ride in the world, without telling this story and educating people on the rising cases of colon cancer in young adults?
So I’ve teamed up with my fearless, brave and cancer kicking brother and the Helen G. Nassif community cancer center to educate and fundraise. How Helen G. Nassif helps cancer patients
This center is local to Cedar Rapids, IA and has been an integral part of my brothers healing and treatment. They offer horticulture classes to patients and survivors, free massages, provide patients with Social Workers, the list goes on and on.
I will save more for another blog post, but in the meantime, please check out my Go Fund Me page if you’re interested in helping out with the biking portion of the fundraiser. GoFundMe
For those interested in donating to the Helen G. Nassif community cancer center, the sole purpose of this bike ride, please click here Help Colon Cancer patients