Have you ever driven past a large group of cyclists and wondered about the chaos that must be involved in keeping so many people together while juggling traffic lights, moving cars and hills … all while staying together? I have.
Before this spring my thought would have been: “Why spend your precious Sunday being cooked by the sun while your life rests in the balance of two skinny tires?”
However, I have made a commitment to myself to take my body back from cancer by riding 200 miles on a bike, and so I’ve begun my own dance with these skinny tires. Since I have no prior cycling experience (translation: have no control and could easily fall over into city traffic at any moment) my husband and I have been riding in upstate New York surrounded by fields, cows and an occasional woodchuck.
While these first rides have been filled with strenuous hills, the greatest concern is a sunburn — or being hit in the face by a bee. The road is quiet, so you feel one with the bike, the road and the surrounding farmland.
This picturesque experience came to a screeching halt moments (literally) after the start of my first group Tour de Pink training ride. As we came to a busy intersection, I realized I had not stopped at a traffic light yet. I certainly had never ridden in a group of 15 cyclists. There were cars everywhere, bikes everywhere and funny terms being yelled out all around me. If they say life is lived outside your comfort zone — I was more alive during this group ride than I had been in years.
Our group of cyclists moved as one creature, always warning its parts about threats around it. As we rode you would hear “car back!” come from the back and move up past you, each person yelling it out so the next person in front of them could do the same, so that we all knew a car was behind us. Moments later “runner front!” would move backwards through the group the same way.
The shouts became a song moving back and forth between the entire group that I had begun to rely on. Everyone around us was taking care of each other. Everyone was part of the whole, no matter where they were in the line.
The amazing cyclists that rode on this group ride with me are angels in my eyes. They took great care of us newbies who were only two years out from diagnosis. They rode slowly beside us, teaching us and creating a space where we felt comfortable.
This is what Tour de Pink is all about. Talented cyclists giving their time and energy to help young women affected by breast cancer, like me, do something they never thought was possible.