The best moment in the entire experience was my beautiful wife, Janice, waiting at the finish line with a bouquet of flowers. Immediately after I came across and the volunteer handed me my survivor’s rose, Jan greeted me with the bouquet and the sign that she and Lynn and Dot had made while I was riding.
That was the best moment of the Ride for the Roses Cancer Fundraising Bikeride, held in Austin, Texas, last weekend.
This being said, there were other highlights and one or two lowlight moments in this gathering (more than 5,000 riders plus friends and family), which raised more than $4 million for cancer-related causes such as research and care, education, etc.
Many of the riders were survivors, designated by a yellow tag, which we wore on our shirts in addition to our ride registration number. It was encouraging to all of us, I think, to see the number of other survivors who were riding in the project, including a large number of multiple survivors.
One of the concepts that always breaks my heart is the thought of a child living with cancer, and there were a number of little people involved who were wearing the special yellow tags.
The Austin hill country presented its own unique challenge, especially with drizzles, headwinds over 30 mph, and 60-degree temperatures. But this was more than offset by the beauty of the terrain, which kind of reminded me of home.
In fact, on Saturday we had the chance to drive out and about Lake Travis and see more of that wonderful terrain. Seeing it close up, from the seat of the bike, was a different perspective.
There was a big party after the ride, with everything free, including a concert by JoDee Messina. Even though the rain had continued and by that time was coming down much more than a drizzle, it was a great experience to see that many folks involved in the project of reminding ourselves that cancer cannot beat our spirits.
The Powerbar health expo, held on Saturday morning, was also classy and well done, as you would probably expect from a city like Austin and an organization like the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Booths were set up that featured bicycling products, but also health-related information, tests, and products.
The true high point was the feeling of esprit de corps among the many people there. I am aware that this column is read by many who are cancer survivors and a whole slew more whose lives have been impacted by this disease. To see that many people together, just like at Relay for Life, is always spiritually empowering.
Special words need to be said for the volunteers at the party, the expo, etc, who are the real heroes. A few choruses of “Wind Beneath My Wings” would fit. Play it again for the spouses and loved ones who stand beside anyone fighting cancer.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at