The lack of Pelotonia last summer had me scrambling for an excuse to exercise, much less to pull my bike off the suspended hooks in the garage ceiling for anything longer than a weeknight Graeter’s ice cream trek with the boys. Most of you know how loyal I’ve been to Pelotonia for a decade now. I always tell people that I was talked into participating in my first Pelotonia event, but I don’t mean that in a negative manner. There were two older GBQ partners (and by old, I mean old enough to goad me into something that required physical endurance and know I’d take the bait) who told a feel-good story in GBQ’s common area about a new nonprofit event supporting cancer research. Back then, very few people in Columbus knew anything about Pelotonia; it was still in its infancy. Twelve years later, there are over 10,000 riders scheduled to take to the roads this weekend, participating in rides from 20 to 200 miles spanning Saturday and Sunday.
In 2011, I borrowed a bike for my first ride (a real road-ready bike because I didn’t own one) and knocked out 25 miles. A walk in the park, I was hooked, and couldn’t wait to join this growing fad of road biking, knowing I’d sign up for 100 miles the following year. This will be my 10th year riding in Pelotonia, and my 8th 100-mile ride.
Aside from the pandemic canceling last year’s in-person event, this year hit differently. Yes, each year there is a new story about someone’s spouse, a close relative, or even best friend suddenly fighting a battle they never imagined. Sadly, cancer touches all of us, and much too frequently. I learned back in June that a college roommate of mine living in Virginia was diagnosed with cancer and he’s in the thick of his fight as we speak.
Across the country, the state, and even Columbus, there are all sorts of cancer awareness fundraising events for several different cancers. To me, Pelotonia was a way to support them all at once, and it just so happened to be at a time when the threat of a cancer diagnosis closely touched our family just a couple of years earlier in 2008.
Pelotonia weekend starts with quite a party on Friday night, something I’ve forced myself to behave at several years in a row now because smashing 12 beers the night before a 100-mile ride could make getting out of bed Saturday morning unnecessarily difficult, much less that 22-mile stretch entering Knox County around 1 pm. You’re right back at the starting gate before 7 am loading up on bananas, bagels, coffee, and any energy chew you can get your hands on. Typically by 3 pm, the 100-mile riders are crossing the finish line in Gambier in droves on the beautiful campus of Kenyon College. The sense of accomplishment each year never ceases and you will see signs made by family members of all ages that will move you to tears. And it keeps you coming back each year.
Huge shoutout to our Marketing team for once again knocking out one of the coolest jerseys we’ll see on the road all weekend. I would even argue that throughout all the years, the compliments our GBQ team receives on the jersey design are as consistent as the large crowds that line both sides of the street in downtown Granville, something that even the 50-mile riders will get to experience this year.
While I could list pages of Pelotonia stats that would take you by surprise, here are the biggest ones to leave you with:
- All-time Pelotonia funds raised: north of $228M
- 2021 funds raised: just over $11M
- My all-time contribution: just shy of $27k
- GBQ’s contribution over the last 12 years: over $300,000 and counting!
If you find yourself somewhere between Franklin County and Knox County this weekend, pull over and cheer on any riders you see. This is emotional for everyone involved, and it’s way more than just a bike ride.