Coolin’ Down

Four weeks have passed since the end of the Great Cycle Challenge, and the sense of purpose I had when I was out there logging miles for the kids was literally the proverbial cup running over. I saddled up 27 days out of 30 in September. There were plenty of mornings I did NOT want to ride, but remembering one of the many stories I’d heard or read of a child fighting for his or her life was more than enough to get me motivated. My legs would join the party after eight or ten miles.

I’d put little forethought into choosing 800 miles as my goal, mainly that I’d ridden 777.7 last September and I wanted to do more. It didn’t matter that, playing with the calculator, I’d have to ride 32 miles 25 times to make it, and I’d not yet ridden a 30-miler in 2021. Again, thank you Matt Mandeville – three years ago – for shaming me into more aggressive goals.

I hoped to do more as a fundraiser as well. Last year my goal was $3,000 and I raised $5,319.76. I’d chosen $3,000 because in 2019 my goal was $1,000 and I raised just over $3,000. I was happily stunned by the generosity. But this year, with all of the uncertainty of Covid, and with my pre-release of Diagram of Death in July (I was sick of me), I wasn’t about to escalate my goal or post heavily, even though the cause is to cure the most heart-wrenching of all diseases. I fell a little short – currently $2,061.24 – but I’m so thankful for all of my sponsors and I’m proud that in paying my bike acquisition forward – from Lon Shannon to Rich Harper to me – (see: Immeasurable Kindness | Andrew Spradling (wordpress.com) ) I have raised over $10,000 in three years for Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

There was a flurry of activity following my last ride and my 813-mile total and they must be recognized and thanked first. Just this week – Rex and Diana Thaxton! Bless you! Post-ride – Cindy (Shope) Strock, Karen (Fulmer) Cebuhar, Derek Watson – with whom the riding all began; my cousin Kelly (Johnson) Tinsley, and a new anonymous donor (one of three). Thank you all – all Red Dragons shy of Parkersburg’s Diana – sincerely.   

More of my good-hearted friends, former classmates, and neighbors, most of which are repeat supporters: Carin Miles; Heather and Lee McCoy; Dana and Lisa (Parsons) Miller, Robin and Guy Turturice of Shuckers; Art Postlethwait; David and Kerri Call; Jason and Kim Rogers (should have thanked you properly at The Tap); Barbara and Rodney Holley and their walking-sidekick Bud Newbrough; from 50 years ago, Sun Valley neighbor Allyson (Bragg) Sharp; oldest of pals Eric and Becky Minsker; Author and St. Albans promoter Joe Bird; Rochester gem Sandy Manou Rohr; AAU brother Steve “G-Dub” Vorholt; and the one and only Jimmy Gilmore, who was “in” 3 months before the ride began; AND Jenny (Andrews) and Larry Ellis. Larry also pushed me for at least 1/4th of the goal, and was quick to say, “No, you need the miles” when I was willing to take the short route.

Thanks also to my family: another cousin, Lisa (Parsons) Lawson; our Mike Trader-in-law Jeanne Johnson; Sister-in-law Danielle Allen Sterzenbach; her Momma, Cheryl Barnes McLane; my mom and dad, Ruthie and Alan Spradling; and my bride of soon-to-be-25-years, Mylissa and our three kids, Evan, Audrey and Claire, all of whom encouraged me in one way or another. Mys would continually tell me she was proud when I could have been doing something more pertinent to writing or promoting books.

Which leads me to a few quick September stats: Rides: 27; Rides over 32 miles: 17; Rides over 35: 5; Hours on the seat; nearly 60; Elevation climbed: approximately 52,000 feet; Physical or mechanical casualties: amazingly only a water bottle holder and a cyclometer magnet. Internationally: $13,505,874 million has been raised so far. The books are open til midnight: https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/AndySpradling

My intention with the 3-year total was to scale back in the future, if I even participated at all. The other day, Mys heard me say “Hmm” when I was reading some national stats. She asked, “What was that about?” I said, “Fifty-one riders rode over 1,200 miles.”

She could see my wheels a’turning.

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