By Jamie Morningstar
Last month I climbed Squaw Peak on an organized training ride with my club, Team Cycle 4 Cure. It had all the elements of a good club ride: a nice turnout of folks in matching jerseys, a ride leader to help me patch the broken spoke I earned halfway up the mountain, zippity-fast leaders that left me feeling far too slow crawling up those 1,800 vertical feet (we’ll be kind and blame the broken spoke for the slog up the mountain).
But this was a Team Cycle 4 Cure (C4C) ride, which meant it was no ordinary club ride. It’s what was – who was – waiting for us at the top of Squaw Peak that made this and every C4C ride so special. At the top we met two families fighting cancer and one fighting MS. They weren’t there to cheer for us; it was us cheering, climbing, and struggling on their behalf. It’s what makes every ride with Team C4C different – every ride is about carrying somebody along in our hearts as we ride.
Team C4C was formed in 2013 to bring like-minded cyclists together to ride for a purpose. We all love to ride and love to build our own cycling skills and encourage cyclists of all levels to dig deeper. It is a recreational club with thirty members with a wide range of cycling skill and experience. Many members of Team C4C had not participated in any organized riding before joining the team and C4C provides training and opportunities to get stronger, cover more miles, and ride with confidence in a group.
Bike skills are only the beginning of Team C4C’s purpose. Team members participate in fundraising and awareness rides to raise money to fund cures for tough diseases from MS to diabetes to cancer to mental illness. The team has already raised more than $11,000 in the first half of 2015 to support organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Huntsman Cancer Institute, American Diabetes Association, and many others to fund programs and research for those fighting serious illness.
But what really sets Team Cycle 4 Cure apart for its members and beneficiaries is the personal aspect of every ride. Each rider is encouraged to choose a friend or loved one who is struggling with a serious condition and “carry them along” as a symbolic passenger for the ride. This includes sending the recipient photos or memorabilia from the ride, filming short video tributes while riding, or simply just acknowledging in the heart of every rider that each painful or challenging mile pales in comparison to the struggles of loved ones who fight terrible diseases. I speak from experience that I can dig a lot deeper and ride a lot harder when I remember that I’m riding for people who are suffering.
Team member Rob Bateman sums it up like this: “I enjoy riding with a team that wants to make a difference in the lives of others. It impresses me that a group of people at all different levels of ability would start an event with prayer for those who are afflicted and would dedicate their exertions to finding a cure for the illnesses of others. This takes something that we all love to do (cycling) and gives it meaning beyond self.”
It can be easy for to underestimate the impact that Team C4C’s simple encouragements can make in the lives of those we ride for. I wonder, “how much good can my little acts of support do for my friends who are fighting uphill battles against cancer and other serious diseases?”
And then I hear the stories from those whose spirits were lifted and who had a little more energy to fight another day because of the big hearts of Team Cycle 4 Cure. My friend Tom is fighting hard against melanoma and as he was reflecting on Team C4C he shared that “knowing C4C is riding for me is incredible; they have been a huge encouragement through a pretty difficult time. Having a group of people who are thinking about me, praying for me, and standing behind me, provides a huge boost emotionally and that gives me the courage needed to keep my chin up and push on! Team C4C is making a difference.”
And that’s why I Cycle 4 Cure.
If you’re interested in joining, sponsoring, or learning more about Team Cycle 4 Cure, check out our website at http://www.teamc4c.org or email [email protected].