Obliteride is an annual bike ride that raises money for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. So far, riders have raised over $4.1 million. It’s a great cause – a cause I believe in. In fact, Fred Hutch is where I’ve chosen to work.
While I’ve volunteered for the event for the past two years, the idea of riding in it seemed daunting. Although the choice of routes ranges from 10, 25, 50, 100 to 150 miles, even the shortest ones seemed out of reach for someone like me who hasn’t ridden for what seemed to be ages. (The kids’ route invites riders to “pedal a safe 1-mile” but I figured they wouldn’t let me join that one.)
I used to ride regularly when I lived in downtown Seattle, but since moving up north two years ago, commuting 30 miles down I-5 didn’t seem like a good idea. Would I have to train all year to prepare? Do I even have the right gear? When will I have the time to do training rides? As a new, exhausted father with a full-time job and family obligations, the last thing I wanted to do was think about riding countless miles around Seattle, where it’s been unusually hot.
That said, my baby girl is the reason why I should do Obliteride.
Rylee was born last October and is the center of our lives. There are so many things in this world that we fear but cancer shouldn’t be one of them, especially if cancer cures are within our reach. Like so many, cancer has touched my family and friends, but my dream is that Rylee will grow up in a world without cancer. If, in some way, I can help accelerate that timetable, why wouldn’t I?
So, recently, I started to consider trying to ride but feared it was too late to start training.
I talked to Amy Lavin, Obliteride’s executive director, who said “with a 10-mile route this year, it’s never too late to sign up. People can literally walk up Sunday morning, Aug. 9, and join any of the rides.”
I also asked her about the intensity of each course. “For those new or returning to cycling, the 10-mile route should feel very comfortable, the 25-mile route could present a good two- to two-and-a-half hour workout and the 50-mile ride is a good half day with friends,” she said.
I got so inspired after talking with her that I decided to take on the 25-mile route. Amy reaffirmed my assumption that the 25-mile ride is the bike equivalent to a 5K race in which anyone, no matter whether you are an athlete who trains all year or an everyday Joe, can participate. “Most able-bodied people can do it, especially if they are doing some regular exercise. Again, it’s not a race, so people can always just slow down and take it easy,” she said.
Amy did throw me a bone: If for some reason a participant cannot finish the course, they just need to call the phone number on their bib to get a ride to the finish line. So I guess either way I’ll finish.
So, can I do it? We’ll see. If you’re thinking about riding but haven’t started training yet, join me and we’ll take on this challenge together. Amy promises several weeks is still enough time to train. Each week I’ll be chronicling my training efforts and, if all goes well, the ride itself, here and on our social-media platforms. (My personal Instagram and Twitter handle is @njung23; look for the hashtags #BoOnABike and #Obliteride and please excuse the baby photos.)
Together, we can end cancer.
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Bo Jungmayer is a staff photographer and multimedia editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He’s a graduate of the University of Washington and is instrumental in finding and executing innovative ways to tell stories through words, pictures and video. Reach him at njungmay@FredHutch.org.