The 2009 edition of the Challenge to Conquer Cancer is finished. We completed our journey safely from Greenville, SC to Austin, Texas. It was an incredible journey that I put into two separate parts. One part was the riding, the other part was the opportunity for personal growth.
As a ride, what else can I say but we endured various challenging weather conditions while doing our best to cover as many miles as we could during our shifts. I was quite confident the Polka Dot team could cover 100 miles every time we got on the bikes (for a 6 hour shift) and I was proven correct as we managed to complete back to back century rides for our 2nd and 3rd six hour shifts (105.4 miles and 100.1 miles respectively).
Our first 6 hour shift challenged us with some difficult climbing and very cold weather. While we did not cover 100 miles during this shift, we did manage to cover 75 miles under some very difficult riding conditions. One of our team-mates was pulled from the ride at about mile 25 for borderline hypothermia. Thankfully, she was fine once she was able to get her body temperature back under control.
Excitement ensued while riding along the Natchez Trace near Jackson Mississippi. The Park Ranger pulled us over and asked "Do you have a permit?". Quite funny. He delayed our ride for a few minutes, but ended by allowing us to continue without our support vehicles riding along with us. The support vehicles leap-frogged to the next opportune vehicle pull-outs while we continued on the bike. This was our 105 mile day.
The second part of this experience was an incredible personal growth opportunity. It is thanks to the contributions of my supporters that I was able to participate in this event. Thanks to all of you who contributed because this personal growth opportunity has provided me a different perspective on life and the challenges faced by people with this horrible disease we call cancer.
An additional yet somewhat unexpected benefit also came from this grand experience. The fine group of people who participated with me have become very close friends. I have not experienced this comraderie since my Military days. We shared an incredible sense of purpose that gave us true unity in spreading the message.
That message was not all negative either. We heard many stories about and met many people who are survivors of this disease. It was also a message of Hope. Sally, our support driver, wore a pink cape for the entire journey. On the back of her cape were the words "Hero for Hope".
In some ways, we all became heroes for hope. Not just those of us out on our bikes or those participating in a direct support role, but all of you too. Those of you who contributed to this excellent cause should consider yourselves "Heroes for Hope" as well.
jd - Team Polka Dot
p.s. You can view the photos I took through this link:
p.p.s. If you did not have an opportunity to follow the C3 squad during the ride, you can read all of the squad blogs at www.ridetoaustin.com. Remember they are posted in reverse chrono order (most recent posts first). I've posted under the user name JohnD.
You can read my personal entries here
The Polka Dot Team (L to R): "Super" Sally Dunn, John Davidson, Jeni Schumacher, Perry Lyles, Ed Hernando, Dawn Williams
3 years ago