Monday, July 14, 2008

InCycle Grad Meets "The Man"

Matthew Feliciano, a dear friend to many of us here at Cycle U, and a graduate of our InCycle program, had the recent opportunity to meet a cycling legend, and we asked him to tell us all about it. Here is his story...

LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE – Portland: Ride Report
(AKA: The Day I got to shake hands with the Man)

This ride report actually starts in April of 1999 when I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. I was going through chemo watching Lance Armstrong win his first Tour de France.

Flash forward eight years to a very hot Sunday in July, Lance has since won six more TdFs and started the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I have done several century rides with Team in Training and raised thousands of dollars for their cause. Along the way I joined an online group called Cyclists Combating Cancer, started by Damon Phinney (father of Davis Phinney) who had prostate cancer. The people of this group had two things in common; cycling and some kind of connection to the fight against cancer. Most, like me were Survivors but others had family members or close friends who had been diagnosed with cancer. When the Ride for the Roses and the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGES started up it was only natural for members of the CCC to participate and as the events have evolved so has the level of CCC involvement. There are teams of members participating in every city that the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE is held. And for the past several years a CCC jersey has been entered in the Team Jersey competition in each city. This year it happened to win in Portland and that’s how I got to shake hands with Lance Armstrong.

I suppose this wouldn’t be much of a ride report if I didn’t talk about the event. This year the Portland event was hosted at the Nike World Headquarters, probably one of the greatest corporate campuses ever built (especially if you are the slightest bit athletically inclined). There is a running/walking trail that circles the campus, a regulation sized soccer field and of course the Lance Armstrong fitness center. The Lance as it is called was closed for the weekend to accommodate the Challenge runners, walkers and cyclists with shower facilities. I have been in some great athletic clubs before but this one has to be the nicest of all. The high point of the weekend for the CCC group was going to be the awards ceremony which took place at 12:30. This meant that the CCC would be riding the 40 mile option to make sure the whole group would have enough time to finish the ride in time.

Forty miles was really a good choice since it was pushing 95 degrees by the time I finished around 10:30. The course was in the beautiful countryside just west of Portland, it was just a few degrees hotter than I like it 80-85 is just about perfect for me. The 40 mile option was mostly flat with some rollers and there was very little wind, which was great since I was solo most of the ride. I like to do shorter rides on occasion because the people you meet seem to be having much more fun than the ones on the 100 mile course. I also love to ride in the Portland area; they have really done a lot for cycling since I moved away in 97. One thing I noticed out in the countryside was the signage, I’m used to seeing singe that say something like “Bikes next 5 miles” but in Oregon I saw signs that said “Share the Road” with a bicycle symbol. The difference between the two really struck me; the first is more of a warning to drivers that something slow and annoying may be on the road for the next 5 miles the second tells everyone what they should be doing.

Anyway, I finished in plenty of time for the award ceremony. I showered and even considered a massage before meeting the group but instead I wandered over to the backstage area where the CCC group had assembled. We hung out back there until it was our time to go up, security tried to kick us out but the LAF staff set them straight. I took some pics for Coach Tammy with my cell phone. Of course I didn’t think to bring my camera and I’m still kicking myself.

When it was our time to go on stage we filed up and each got to shake Lance’s hand then had a group photo with him and our winning jersey. So there you have it after eight years of fighting my own personal battle with cancer I finally got to meet one of the people who has inspired me publicly to do what I do to help fight the disease. Even more important however was getting to meet and put faces to the names of CCC members who I have only heard from online. Members of an international cycling club that no one joined by choice, people who truly know what it means to LiveStrong and be a part of a grass roots effort in the fight against cancer. The CCC is made up of people who inspire me to keep riding and keep fighting as long as I can.

Ride to Live!

Photo left to right are:
Mark Blum, Susan Murphy, Steve Bartolucci, Lance Armstrong, Matthew Feliciano, Debra Doerfler, and Todd McLaughlin