Englewood resident Ryan Andersen said participation in a three-day portion of the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Bike Ride that began Sept. 15 was overall the neatest experience of her life.
“It was amazing, it was grueling and it was inspiring all at …
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“It was amazing, it was grueling and it was inspiring all at the same time,” Andersen said about completing her ride. “The ride was physically challenging. We rode 72 miles the first day and that was hard. Day two was difficult as we rode 82 miles on a hilly course into a steady 25 miles-an-hour headwind. We completed our portion of the relay by riding 77 miles the third day.”
She explained she was a part of one of the two groups in the team riding that leg of the relay. Her group road 72 miles the first day while the second group of that relay team started that morning from the end of Andersen's first leg. When Andersen's group completed their first day's ride, they were taken by bus to the end of the second group's ride, which was in Colby, Kansas. The relay format continued so, at the end of the third day, both groups arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, her group by bus and the other group on their bikes, to hand the baton to the cyclist making the next leg of the ride.
“I am so proud of myself for my accomplishments,” she said of her experience. “I was amazed at how I felt once I completed my ride. I felt overcome with emotion as I thought about all the patients battling cancer and what they go through during that battle. I encourage all my colleagues to be part of the ride because it was the most rewarding endeavors I have ever done.”
Andersen was a member of the one of the two groups riding the Denver-to-Kansas City leg of the ride. In all there were of seven teams of Bristol-Myers Squibb employees taking part in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Bike Ride. Plans are for the 93 novice bike riders who make up the seven relay teams to cover about 2,800 miles over 21 days as they raise money and awareness for Stand Up to Cancer's research programs.
In an event press release, Stand Up to Cancer, SU2C, is described as a 501(c)(3) organization raising funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking transitional research to develop new therapies that can be used to treat cancer patients and save lives.
The goal for the 2017 Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Bike Ride is to raise $1 million for Stand Up to Cancer. Every dollar the riders raise will be matches by Bristol-Myers Squibb. As of Sept. 15 the project had raised more than $300,000.
Andersen and her teammates started their three-day ride on Sept. 15 just as the sun peeked over the horizon. Andersen and her teammates pedaled out of the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn in Glendale and headed along the Cherry Creek Bike Path before reaching the secondary roads they followed along each leg of their journey. Organizers said the route was laid out along bike paths and secondary roads to provide a safe ride for the cyclists. Andersen and her teammates were accompanied by a support team of 11 people in four vehicles on their journey with a lot of experience in rider support.
Friends and family members, as well as Dinger, the Colorado Rockies mascot, were on hand Sept. 15 to cheer on Andersen and her teammates as they started their three-day journey.
Andersen's sons, 12-year-old Noah and 10-year-old Scott, and her 9-year-old daughter Quinn came to see her off. Quinn said she was glad her mother volunteered for the project.
“It is a good thing for my mother because she will get a lot of exercise,” the girl said. “Riding to raise money to help others is a good thing too.”
Andersen graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 1997 and earned her bachelor's degree in finance at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She said she worked for a number of firms, and about two years ago she joined the sales officer of Bristol-Meyers Squibb in Denver and travels the state in her work.
“This is a chance for those of us who are part of the oncology division of Bristol-Myers Squibb to something beyond and above or day-to-day jobs,” she said. “I am excited to be riding for all cancer patients and to raise funds for the amazing organization working to develop treatments and hopefully a cure for cancer.”
She when she learned about the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer project, she was inspired to sign up for the ride because cancer has invaded the lives of so many of her loved ones and friends. Organizers selected riders from those who signed up and Andersen said she was surprised and pleased when she was notified she would be a relay team member.
“This effort is providing support for the amazing Stand Up to Cancer organization that is working to enhance cancer research,” she said. “Like so many people my life has been touched by love ones who have cancer and I have become passionate about doing all I can to support this program seeking a cure for the disease.”
Andersen, 42, said preparing to ride a bike 75 miles a day was a challenge.
“I was very much a novice bike rider, and while I lead an active lifestyle, including skiing, preparing for covering 75 miles a day on a bike was not easy,” she said. “I had never been on a road bike until we started training in April. Clipping and unclipping my cleats from the pedals resulted in a number of tumbles to the ground in the back yard.”
She said one of her teammates lives in the Denver area so they did a number of training rides together.
“He is a much more experienced cyclist than I am and he took me on the mountain trails that tested my physical fitness and stamina,” she said. “I am glad we are on the Colorado leg of the ride because our route is downhill and pretty flat.”
Andersen said she isn't sure how much she will ride her bike when the ride is completed.
“The jury is still out on whether or not I would do the ride again,” she said. “Also, while cycling is a fun activity and great exercise, I am not sure I will want to leave my children for five hours or more on a Saturday. I may still enjoy riding a bike but it will most likely be riding trails for just an hour or two.”
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