I can't recall exactly how old I was when I received my first bicycle. Such a major moment in life, one would expect I could say it was my 5th or 6th birthday. I reckon I was in kindergarten or first grade.
What I do remember is the important detail: the bike itself. How could I forget that? It was a Schwinn Sting-Ray style bike — banana seat, high handlebars, coaster brake. At some point, I got the great idea to cover its frame with Garbage Pail Kid stickers. The bike represented freedom to roam. And I roamed a lot. And I still do.
All told, I've owned 10 bikes. My best guess is that I have ridden hundreds of hours on those 10 bikes. I rode to school, work and trails. I rode to friends' houses, convenience stores and state parks. I rode for fun, exercise, stress relief and training. More times than not, I rode by myself and for myself.
In 10 days, I am going to do something less selfish while riding my 10th bike. I am going to race for 24 hours. But I am not going to do it for myself. I am going to do it for those who can't ride. I am going to race 24 hours in Palo Duro Canyon to raise money to fight cancer.
While riding, I will think of those who have been affected by cancer — friends, family, acquaintances and strangers I've only read about who have battled this scourge. Some beat it; others didn't. The thoughts of their rounds of radiation or chemotherapy, their pain, their sleepless nights, their diminished strength will motivate me to keep pedaling. I must keep going. As 24 Hours in the Canyon's motto goes, "Cancer Doesn't Sleep ... Why Should We?"
I registered for this race with a modest fundraising goal of $150. I've already raised $250. I am thankful for the support of my friends, family and coworkers. I will think of them while I pedal, too. From noon on June 1 to noon on June 2, I will remember memories we've shared, what makes these people special to me, how we met, etc.
I want to think about even more people during the race. Please consider donating at Kintera.org and, in the comment section, share why fighting cancer matters to you. I will add you and your reason to my list of Why I Must Keep Pedaling. Because I will keep on pedaling as long as I am capable. Not just for 24 hours next week, but for the rest of my life.