It started innocently enough. Mark Pettengill texted me telling me he was considering doing 100 miles on the Mount Dora Mountain Bike Trail to benefit his Nephew Ian that has actually been battling cancer and asked if I might feel up to joining him. I believed about it for a while. I have actually had a couple longish rides in the last few weeks, but 100 miles on all singletrack (not one inch of road of any kind) is a whole different story. And the Mt Dora Trail isn’t flat by anyone’s standards. To say the least 100 miles on this trail was going to be a real test! I was reluctant at first, thinking I couldn’t finish. But the more I believed about it the more fired up I got. I remember thinking, why couldn’t I complete it? I’m in.
This week one year ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and a mass in my colon. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and complication after complication ensued. I lost a total of 90 lbs and am still down about 60 lbs from the day of surgery. My last chemo treatment was 4 months ago. I am cancer free and feeling great.
We recently had a scare with my wife Denise. She went to the doctor thinking she had a hiatal hernia. The doctor sent her for a pressure test to check her heart (it’s fine) and found the nuke med dye showing a hot spot in her breast. They were concerned that it could be cancer. She has actually had a mammogram, a sonogram and an MRI. The mammogram and sonogram didn’t find anything, awaiting the results of the MRI. Very slim opportunity it will find anything but you never know. Friggin stressful!!
Mark’s nephew Ian has actually a rare type of cancer that only affects children 17 and under. Ian is fighting the good fight!! Chemo has actually been hard on him. The doctors are hopeful that he will make a full recovery. Ian has actually a will to survive and a positive attitude, exactly what is needed to kick this horrible disease. Keep it up Ian, there is life after this battle and things will get back normal for you soon!!!!!!
I was talking about the 100 mile ride and explaining the meaning behind it to Rob Ern. Come to find out his father in law was just diagnosed with cancer and has actually just begun his fight. Rob jumped in without hesitation. He texted me earlier in the week to see if we could change the ride date as he had forgotten that his mom was traveling from Vero to be with him and his family on the day after Christmas. It didn’t work for Mark or I so I told Rob the ride must go on Friday. Soooo, Rob blew his mom off on Christmas to make this ride!!!!! Teri Griffin Ern, again, I am sorry to hear about your dad!
So the three of us set off a 7:30 am in misty 50 deg conditions. We stayed together for a while but everyone quickly departed to ride their own pace (read-dropped me..lol). Jared Hartman showed up a little while later to ride with us in the daylight. When Jared stopped at dusk he had 55 miles and 4927 ft of climbing showing on his garmin, fantastic showing Jared! Throughout the day local riders came out to do some laps and show their support. Corbett Brown knocked out few laps early with us, thanks again man! MIchael Golub stopped by our base camp with words of encouragement. Jim Beyer knocked out some laps with us. Thanks guys, it really help motivate. Mark’s race bike is in the shop so he started the ride on my wife’s hot pink santa cruz superlight but had trouble with it. He then switched to his backup bike but was having shifting problems. He finished the ride on borrowed 27.5 inch wheel fugi. Mark, thanks for hanging with me those last 30 miles or so, I know it was WAY off your pace. I don’t know if I could have actually finished without you!!! Rob had a super strong ride. When it got dark I started doing modified laps that bypassed some of the climbing, I ended up with 8,658 ft of climbing. Rob stayed on the figure 8 lap we had been doing so he no doubt ended up with more than 9,000 ft! All three of us completed 100 miles of the Mt Dora Trail!!!!!!!
I set a few PR’s, distance on all singletrack PR, first dirty century, ride time for a day PR. The weather was perfect. The trail saw some rain earlier in the week and trail conditions were perfect. Company was great! I will not soon forget this one. Life after cancer.