Monday, September 12, 2011

Letter to bandit pelotonia riders

The following is a letter to Tym Tyler, one of a handful of unregistered riders (and the only one whose name we know) who jumped in at the start of Pelotonia 11 – and then proceeded to race to Athens. The word that immediately springs to mind to describe this type of behavior is … despicable. Perhaps you can think of another more descriptive word or two.

Dear Mr. Tyler (and anyone else who jumped in at the start of Pelotonia without registering):

I just wanted to let you know that Pelotonia is a ride, not a race, with one and only one goal: end cancer ASAP.

I also wanted to let you know a little bit about some of the 4,900-plus riders you so rudely jumped ahead of to race in a ride in which you knew you had not registered for and hadn’t even attempted to raise money for. This, BTW, is something these 4,900-plus riders worked for months to accomplish, pestering their family, friends and coworkers, and organizing hundreds and hundreds of fundraising events.

Miles behind you was our friend Beverly Cote. She’s 77, a recent cancer survivor – and was worried she couldn’t meet the fundraising minimum. She made a pamphlet, carried it in the basket on the back of her old Sears bike – and passed it out to everyone she knew, as well as complete strangers, asking them to donate to our cause. She did indeed raise more than the minimum, $5 at a time. Pelotonia was Beverly’s first-ever organized ride, and she called it the greatest experience of her life.

Was Pelotonia a good experience for you?

While you were racing along in a ride that is not a race, tucked in behind the motorcycle escort arranged for by the Pelotonia staff, Alex Kip was struggling. In the winter, Alex’s doctor told him he only had a 30-percent chance to beat the cancerous tumor in his chest. Alex beat the odds and his cancer – and rode 102 miles to Athens, exhausted at times, but determined to give cancer a kick in the butt. I would say Alex was a winner on this day.

Did you win anything?

The members of the Central Ohio Primary Care, Girls With Gears and Stefanie’s Team of Hope pelotons met once or twice a week for months to prepare for this ride. While I’m sure you’ve ridden hundreds of century rides and this was no big deal for a hot-shot bike racer, many of the members of these pelotons are new to cycling and this was their first century ride. I’m sure you flew up the big hill on Starner Road, while many of these riders struggled to keep their pedals turning. Some had to walk, but none gave up, and when they arrived in Athens, often with tears flowing and their emotions swirling, there were scores of friends and family waiting with cheers, signs and hugs.

Was anyone waiting for you?

John Looker has terminal brain cancer. He struggled mightily to ride 102 miles on Saturday … and then worked as a volunteer on Sunday. John is an inspiration to us all.

Did you inspire anyone during Pelotonia?

I could go on and on, as every one of our riders and volunteers has a connection to cancer and a story of courage, love and generosity about why they rode or volunteered.

In a way, I guess you have a story as well – it’s just a little different type of tale. But, Mr. Tyler, always remember: We ride and raise money to beat cancer … for anyone and everyone everywhere … even the unregistered riders who think it’s OK to jump the start of Pelotonia.


The Ride

Personal comments:

I would be the first to admit. I've been a bandit rider. But would I EVER consider being a bandit rider for an event like this???? NO WAY.

As for the riders, there is no "winner". That's not what it is about. We were out there not to be winners, we were all out there with one goal...BEAT CANCER.

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