25,000 Miles Cancer-Free


I had told my friend, Chey Hillsgrove, I’d be joining him at the end of his cross-country cancer ride. I had hoped to get their route and ride backward from Bremerton or Bainbridge Island until I found them.

Fish – Poulsbo, Washington

My friends, Dale & Kimber Polley were visiting Seattle. Kimber wanted to take me to Chey (after some begging by me, I think). It worked out because while I envisioned we would encounter the riders on the road and I would start at that point, we left very early and Chey’s group planned to leave very late. We arrived in Port Townsend before many of the riders did (they had homestay visits the night before).

Shelby Perkins inking Chey (it will wash off)

I said hello to Chey and then met Shelby Perkins. Shelby was a college classmate and soccer teammate of Jamie Roberts and it was good for both of us to meet someone who knew her. Riders and friends joined hands for a dedication circle.

Rolling out of Port Townsend

Words cannot explain what being part of a dedication circle means and I won’t try. Suffice it to say that my two highlights of a week of riding were meeting Alex Shepherd in Ashland, Oregon, and being in the dedication circle. Neither involved riding.

Rolling through Port Townsend

We rolled out as a group, apparently minus one. I was riding with Mike McDonald (Virginia Tech) and chatting about others. He told me Adrienne Rivera also goes to Va. Tech and I asked where she was. After looking around he said “missing.”

Barry and Chey Credit: Kimber Polley

Chey had dropped back to go find her. Ellie Stevens, Natalie Fischer, and I waited. Natalie left cue clues for them on the paths. Once we got together the five of us rode as a group the rest of the day.

Batman Rides Again!

At Mile 15 I pulled over long enough to raise my bike above my head to the bewilderment of the other riders. I just celebrated “Around the World” – 24,901.6 miles ridden cancer-free (started in 2010).

Around the World Cancer-Free

The first water stop was by the sound and by some fabulous blackberry bushes. I failed to grasp at the time that the entire area is basically covered with wild blackberry bushes. I started picking and sharing blackberries wherever I could find them.

Best blackberries in the world

These were the best blackberries I have ever eaten. I know now the best blackberries come from the coast of Washington. The best strawberries come from Finland.

Natalie Fischer Summiting the Wall – It’s steeper than it looks

Ahead of us was a steep hill. It measured 1/2 mile from the bottom which included the lower section where the water stop was. The “wall” portion was 1/4 mile long and it kicked up to 20% in a couple of stretches.

Crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge

I had preloaded a turn-by-turn cue to Garmin which Chey provided two days earlier. That helped our navigation. Once we actually went off cue to stay on course, in the process saving some miles (I think). Later we followed riders up the road even when Garmin told us to turn. Garmin was right but we were with everybody else.

(This is also why it was not a good idea to go to the end and then ride backward until we met. Chey’s group was prone to going off-course at times but then did make it across the country so they did something right!)

Ferry back to Bainbridge Island

We rolled into the campground for the riders last night. I thought they deserved better than camping on their last night. Actually, I’ll say it – they deserved better than camping on their last night.

After a quick lunch with Chey and his friends, I decided not to bike the surface roads back to Bremerton but instead to ride to the Seattle ferry. I was first in line to get on the boat and first off – which I needed. Because then I had to figure out the system — get a ticket to the Bremerton ferry which was boarding. I was last in line and last on the boat. But I made it.

The riding was fun but the dedication circle made the day. Jamie, Jake, Alex.

Three rides all part of a great day

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