Long tough day in the saddle rolling over the sharp hills of Lancaster County Pennsylvania. But along those twisty dog-legged roads are some beautiful scenery and a look at a way of life form yearâ€™s gone bye. While the Hersheyâ€™s Tour de Pink riders use the newest and lightest bikes made of aluminum and carbon fiber, the Amish still use horse and buggies and old steel scooters to travel the roads. Cloths dry from the stiff breeze on lines strung between homes and barns.
From Hershey to Valley Forge the riders travelled through seeing and feeling the history of our forefathers. This was a very difficult 85 miles, though not as hard as last yearâ€™s climb of Eagle Peak.
The excitement getting started at Chocolate World with Hersheyâ€™s $300,000 donation to Young Survivalâ€™s Coalition set the high spirited mood.
The highlight for me was meeting and watching people find strength from within after their leg muscles had told their minds to give up. The people riding in this event donâ€™t give up, even if the finish the route in a SAG wagon. These riders have fought with cancer or helped friends and loved ones battle the disease. When they could ride themselves t hey cheered others one.
Many riders had new bikes and had only been training for a few months, but heard the calling of this event to make a statement to themselves and the world. Ann Marie Potter started riding in July, shortly after her last operation from the breast cancer diagnosed in December of 2005. Her younger sister, Noel Knecht, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 was riding her second Tour de Pink this year. Ann Marie told me what was missing with her treatment and something she hopes to help others deal with. After her mastectomy she was told she could not left anything. Not even her 9 month old son. How can a mother not lift her own child? She struggled with this alone because it was not talked about during her treatment and therapy. Something else she said in the van as we rode together over the last 20 miles of the course that cut into my memory. â€œIâ€™m glad I donâ€™t have daughters.â€ This came up as we talked about her sister who was still riding and always a little faster when they ran cross-country in high school. Because it can run in families, her grandmother died in her forties and they never knew why. The doctorâ€™s still donâ€™t know why breast cancer moves through families, but Ann Marie doesnâ€™t need to worry about her three sons. ( See note below for clarification) Ann Marie felt at first she had given up but not riding to the hotel, but as the miles passed by and the hills we drove up told her she was not ready to ride them she knew she had done her best today and thatâ€™s what counts. She and her sister will be back next year and she will be stronger and ride the full ride.
You stated that â€œAnn Marie doesnâ€™t need to worry about her three sonsâ€ â€“ I wish this were so.
But men DO get breast cancer. And in families with a hereditary mutation men are much more likely to get breast cancer!!
Also â€“ the majority of women with breast cancer, regardless of age, do NOT have any family history.
I just didnâ€™t want those myths perpetuated.
Everyone is at risk â€“ breast cancer knows now race, gender, or age barrier.
But once again â€“ thank you so much for participating and helping out the YSC!!
Anna Cluxton, VP- YSC Board of Directors
Frankie Andreu again rode as a domistique in the service of the champions on this ride. He started in the middle of the group and coached, cheered, pushed, encouraged, and inspired the riders. It was clearly a special day for him. He and Mari Holden are here because they want to be part of this experience. They are not getting paid to ride these 220 miles like they have in their professional pasts. Frankie the word that came up most with my friends about you after the ride was â€œclassâ€. You were surprised with a gift from the organization of a jersey signed by all 150 champions now on your team. I know youâ€™ll wear it with pride.
Westchester residents Jill Frey and Dennis Simmons enjoyed their first day and often joked with each other at the rest stops. They are different people with different paths in life who are working hard for the same cause.
Onto Trenton from Valley Forge, like Washingtonâ€™s troops we will cross the Delaware River and continue the fight. These are riders are on the front lines of the battle with breast cancer and ride like warriors. This ride is about living life and winning small battles each day.