Posts Tagged Sloan Kettering Rare Cancer Research Center

Thrilling Spinning At The Cycle For Survival Fundraiser

Ira grinds and guts it out

Yesterday I was spinning during the last hour of the 2012 Cycle for Survival event. Four thousand cyclists participated in New York City and another 6000 in other parts of the country. I am guessing there were 125-plus bikes in the Equinox Gym where I was huffing and puffing. Friends and family all cheering us on, telling us we can do it, make it, don’t stop. Very exciting, dynamic, loud music, people yelling and singing over the spinning instructor’s microphone commands. My second year riding. A real high. I loved it.

I was only scared a bit maybe 90 seconds into the hour when my quads started feeling the strain as we rose off the seat—out of the saddle, they say—and I hadn’t practiced that at all on my stationary bike at home. I was glad after just four days of training the week before the event that I was able to comfortably build up to an hour. Sure I had done it last year, but that only convinced me I could do it. I didn’t remember how tough it had been. Eventually I was dazed and numb and felt no pain.

Sometimes I stayed in the saddle, when others attacked or took the hill. But I felt wimpy. Right next to me, I learned after a few minutes, was a woman and three male riders who were doing EIGHT HOURS! Both morning and afternoon sessions. What amazing endurance.

Joss and Evan look fresher after four hours than Ira after just one

These are not professionals. Just devoted, passionate amateurs who spin 4-5 times a week. The only reason I was in the section for extreme cyclists is because my son-in-law Evan, who has cancer, was again riding the whole four hours solo, and so was his wife, my daughter, Josslyn, soloing for the first time. They both ride during the year and were in shape for this challenge. Their third team bike for me and three others (an hour each) was privileged to be right in front of them. Members of some other teams only ride for 30 minutes.

Amazingly out of 10,000 riders, there were only 36 extreme cyclists this year, who rode four hours or more…including the four who rode eight hours total. There were 40 last year out of 4000 riders, and 25 in 2010 out of 2500 riders. Evan has been an “extreme” these last three years.

cyclists cheer and yell after the ride

I met a young man in the locker room after the ride who had been spinning in Chicago the day before and in California last weekend. “You are amazingly passionate about this fundraiser to be flying around to the various events like that,” I commented. “Well I co-founded the Cycle for Survival with my wife,” he informed me. I was totally humbled, partly because his wife, Jen Linn, had died last year after a seven year battle with cancer. Then because they had tried to raise just $10,000 for rare cancer research the first year, and it had grown so big that this year $7.8 million was raised, surpassing the $7.45 million of the first five years. And thirdly because what Dave and Jen Linn started has raised funds that led to research that has kept my son-in-law alive with new Sloan Kettering drugs and clinical trials. The Linns have really made a difference.

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Help the Cycle For Survival Save Lives

Last year Evan (rt) looks fresher after four hours than I (ctr) and my son do after just one hour—2/2011

Last night I started spinning at home. 20 minutes. Why? Because on February 12th, I will again be riding with hundreds of others on stationary bicycles for 30 minutes to 4 hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. All to help raise funds for rare cancers that are poorly supported by major charities. Over three weekends, there will be 10,000 of us on 2000 teams (it was 4000 total on 850 teams last year) in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, NYCity and Long Island, NY. We will all be cycling away to music, speed and terrain cues from the spinning instructor, and the encouraging shouts of hundreds of friends and family members. It’s a very thrilling ride.

The annual Sloan Kettering “Cycle for Survival” raises money for research of rare cancers, which are those with less than 40,000 reported cases in America in one year. Most of the money raised through other programs goes for the common cancers, like lung, breast and prostate. Over the last four years—and including this year’s donations so far—the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised over $14 million for experimental research, and I hear that all of it goes for research.

My son-in-law, Evan, has been fighting a rare cancer since 2007. In fact there are only 10 cases in all the literature of people who have his exclusive, and intensely serious, illness. The experimental drugs and treatments coming out of the Sloan-Kettering research have kept him alive and also strong enough to ride his bike in the streets, when there is no snow or rain. Last year he was one of just 40 riders who cycled non-stop for the whole four hours. You can see in the photo that he looks fresher after four hours than I do after just one hour.

If you would like to help support this event, a donation of any amount—no matter how small—would be greatly appreciated and help treat the rare cancers, which include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. Just go to this Cycle for Survival link to Team Evan.

And if you are in New York and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, contact me here for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along…

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