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American Cancer Society Dream Come True

Life on the Ride

Life on the Road photoPPRAC riders vary in ability from fit recreational cycling enthusiasts to ex-bicycle racers. They represent a wide range of professions, interests and backgrounds and average about 40 years of age. Over the years, riders as young as 15 and as old as 60 have completed the 500 miles. Read what some of them had to say about PPRAC in Rider Testimonials. Riders travel at their own pace and in groups of others of the same speed. As a rider you will be given a daily cue sheet which is a description of the day's route with landmarks and distances. You must be prepared to cycle 80-100 miles a day with some difficult climbs. You'll be expected to make routine mechanical adjustments, such as changing flats, on your own. Your day on the road usually begins at 7:00 am and ends by 4:00 pm or earlier. Riders who will not be able to finish by 5:00 pm will be driven in so they, and the volunteers, will get to dinner.

Overnight lodging is provided by churches and schools along the way. Typically, riders sleep in a large rec-room or other available space. Showers are available nearby at the YMCA, school or other prearranged facility. Swimming is available at some locations. Host church volunteers provide hearty dinners and breakfasts. PPRAC volunteers serve a picnic-style lunch at a designated location along the day's route. Food stores and small restaurant locations are included in your cue sheet.

Assisting the riders, five support vehicles travel with the PPRAC. Two carry personal luggage to the next day's destination. One circulates among riders making random checks. A trail "SAG" vehicle gives assistance when mechanical or physical problems arise and a team of qualified mechanics will provide help along the route and at evening stops. If a physical or mechanical breakdown renders you unable to finish the day, the SAG vehicle may pick you up. All vehicles carry emergency provisions. Support vehicles are manned by PPRAC volunteers, usually family or friends of riders. If you or a friend are interested in serving as an on-the-road volunteer, a driver to our starting town for the week, or can provide a support van, truck or car, please indicate so on the registration form.

His Red Ribbon - One PA Perimeter Ride Quest

"Is there a van behind us who could pick up something for me?", a young man asked tentatively. It was already 80 degrees on the third day of the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer and the bicyclists, as well as the support crew, were bathed in sweat, and it was only 8:30 in the morning. We were only 30 miles into our 104-mile ride but New England was enduring a record-breaking heat wave and the 40 cyclists from Pennsylvania were headed home. We left New Hampshire two days before in our journey covering five states (NH, VT, MA, NY, PA) and 540 miles in six days. Pinned to each rider was a red ribbon with a name written on it. This young may had lost his ribbon - for the third time.

He had already turned back twice to find it, but it was getting harder to play catch up with his riding partners and he still had many miles to put in until they reached North Adams, MA. Although he didn't really ask me to turn back, I told him that I would. I had to stop and think about it though. As one vehicle in our caravan of six and support crew of twelve, I was responsible for 40 riders. It was hot and everyone ahead needed water. There were plenty of things I would not have driven back for, but I recognized that look in the rider's eyes and we turned around. We all shared that pain of losing someone we loved to cancer. The fight against cancer brought us together in this quest to ride yet another PPRAC (our tenth) and cancer was the reason we wore red ribbons to honor those who are cancer survivors, are still fighting, or have lost the battle.

His red ribbon was lying on the road. It wasn't hard to find but it was painful to read the two names written on it. Cancer had taken both of this young man's parents while he was still in high school, several years apart. No details were given. None were needed. His red ribbon rode many more miles, duct-taped to his bike. Five hundred, forty miles, in six days of grueling heat, awesome mountains, flat tires, hard gym floors, peanut butter and jelly, and mosquitoes. Raising money to fight this disease was the goal. The quest was to dig down deep, endure the pain and to honor.

Diary of Paul Schoffstall, PPRAC VIII 1997





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