Our man Ted closes in on Lance, looking for that 1 in 6500 chance to say hello.
Putting into words just what the Ride for the Roses is all about is difficult. Regardless of what side of the Lance fan fence you sit on you could never experience a weekend like this firsthand without realizing what his story means to the cancer community. For survivors and those still fighting the weekend seems to blend hope, inspiration, and remembrance among the attendees.
As I walked through the Powerbar Sports and Health Expo that served as a hub for the weekend’s events I stopped to talk with friend and fellow Pez contributor Scott “The Tour Baby” Coady. His fighting spirit personifies just the type of people you’ll see and their dedication to the cause.
One bike: 5 family riders.
Scott is a longtime Peloton Project Member and was hard at work as the second place fundraiser coming into the weekend, but raised enough money in the final 48 hours to grab the top spot. On the other side of the Expo, lines of people waited for a signed copy of Linda Armstrong Kelly’s book, or to get an autograph from George Hincapie.
Though the weekend is filled with events for top fundraisers like private rides with Lance and barbeque dinners, the crown jewel is Sunday’s ride. Before the start Lance addressed the crowd taking time to share a heartfelt thanks to all involved and closed his speech by reading the LAF Mission statement before Robin Williams took control of the microphone to lighten the mood.
Robin Williams is a regular and welcomed fixture at the Ride For The Roses.
As the sun rose over Austin the ride got underway and soon riders were jockeying for position to get a word or two with Lance. The group re-shuffled every few minutes and all along the route riders that struck out early would look over their left shoulder to see Lance and company. What followed from them was typically a double take, or all out sprint to join the entourage, and sometimes both.
As we made our way east, Lance sprang for the first city limit sign in Manor, Texas easily catching up to the media flatbed and causing a photog frenzy. The pace quickened and I found myself riding with the man himself. Between dodging road traffic cones Lance shared he would only ride the 40-mile route as he wanted to get home to the kids—I’d heard rumors that he very much wanted to ride with son Luke on a tandem and twin girls Isabelle and Grace in a pull behind trailer but the early start kept it from happening.
Chatting about his hectic schedule over the last few weeks he shared his bike rides have been fewer than he’d like but that he does manage to sneak out for a run. As we pulled into Elgin, Texas Lance and company peeled off I and I continued on for the longer ride routes.
Michael Ward – guitar-man turned children’s book author.
As I rode I had the chance to watch Robin Williams enjoy a laugh and share his thoughts of the event with some of the 6500 riders – many of whom had signs attached to their back signifying either survivors, or non-survivors they were riding to honor. Among the more touching was a solo male on a tandem with a sign that read “riding in memory of my loving wife”.
Closing in on Austin I found myself chatting with Guitarist Michael Ward, formerly of the Wallflowers, and currently working with Ben Harper. Ward not only rocked the national anthem on his electric guitar before the ride, but also spent the weekend signing copies of his Children’s Book ‘Mike and The Bike,’ which is aimed at teaching kids about healthy habits and cycling at the same time. Ward is a frequent guest at the ride, but also an avid cyclist and as I found out while we rode, a big fan of riding the big cols of France like myself.
As we know, bike riding can make you thirsty, evidenced here by the beer lines.
As a fierce north wind began to blow, Mike and I parted ways so that he could make sure Robin Williams enjoyed the last few miles. At the finish line the LAF had live music and food plus Lance’s favorite beer, Shiner, for the masses to enjoy. It was a fitting end to great day in the saddle but more importantly the clear consensus was that everyone wanted to come back. It’s a good sign of things to come for Lance and his ever-growing circle of friends.
Get more info at the LiveStrong.org website.