I was entering high school when I discovered the small-town cycling film Breaking Away. A movie I’d seen just as many times as I’d seen Star Wars. Entering high school, I became somewhat obsessed with cycling and living in coastal Palos Verdes, the terrain was a challenge. And I conquered it every week.
In Ben Richey, Evan Pease, and Tony Vescio’s 500+ The Ride of a Lifetime named after the annual 7-day bike run from New York City to Niagara Falls, the trio tells the heartbreaking story of Melinda and her nephew, Nick. Which brings me to the other subject personal to me…cancer. Years before, Nick’s mother/Melinda’s sister Melissa overcame breast cancer. While she believed she was in remission, Melissa stop getting herself tested and it came back. She would ultimately pass on.
Melissa would be treated at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute. There Melinda and Nick discover that the hospital sponsored the Empire State Ride—a cross-country cycling and fundraising event. Nick was the first to try it in 2016, but Melinda’s first time was last year (2018) at the age of 67 years old. Their story is heartbreaking and inspiring. Told with great emotion in the 12-minute short.
“Like the fight against cancer, you want to quit, but you can’t.”
Why the bike run? The easy answer is to raise money. The hard answer is the memory of Melissa, who physically struggled to beat cancer the first time and fight even harder the second. The weeklong run is not easy. Sure, day one feels like a sightseeing tour of New York City—biking through central park and on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and finally across the George Washington bridge. But the rest of the tour is country…beautiful, vibrant country. There’s a lot of beautiful countryside in this film. It goes on for what seems forever and climbs uphill to an elevation of 10,000 feet. Like the fight against cancer, you want to quit, but you can’t.
So now, I’m sitting here Bing-ing (yes, I Bing) local runs here in my area. I have a close family member dealing with the return of cancer and maybe it’s time for me to get off my fat a*s. I don’t know if Richey, Pease, and Vescio meant to produce a marketing video for the Empire State Run, but it worked. The challenge is there before me, and I’m thinking about it. 500+ The Ride of a Lifetime will hit close to home for a lot of us. Great strides have been made in cancer research race, and there’s no stopping it now.
"…while she believed she was in remission...it came back"