This season we have had the privilege of partnering with Health Warrior, a company on the cutting edge of nutrition with a focus on Chia. It's been a great partnership and as we embrace the active and positive lifestyle promoted by the Health Warrior culture and their tribe of warriors. The genesis for our involvement with ERRACE started with the idea of a standalone group ride with our partners at Health Warrior. However when the timing lined up to do that ride as part of ERRACE, we leapt at the opportunity to help contribute to the fight against cancer. This participation became even more significant when Johnny Russell, Health Warrior’s Denver-based Road Warrior, invited the team to join Miles4Mary on a 50 mile charity ride within the ERRACE event as this year's ride was honoring his late mother, Mary Russell.
We all arrived in Avon, CT early in the morning and prepared as usual for a ride. However, early on it was clear this was not going to be the usual ride. The warmth in which we were received at the Health Warrior tent and the obvious appreciation of support was overwhelming from the beginning.
I was quickly introduced to Doug Russell - Johnny’s father and husband of Mary. We had exchanged emails during the week, and I introduced him to the rest of the team. Each of us assured Doug and other members of Miles4Mary that we were not there for a training ride. We were there to support Miles4Mary and their athletes. It’s easy to lose perspective when you ride a lot, but when you take a step back and think about it – riding 50 miles is HARD. It was our goal to soften the blow for all involved.
As usual, we were a little disorganized at the start and were on the very back of the pack rolling out. We weaved our way up the group and found Doug and the rest of the Miles4Mary crew.
For the next 10 or so miles, we lead a large group of riders through the country roads of mid-western CT. Eventually the group thinned out. The pace was casual with small moments of spirited riding thrown in to keep everyone on their toes, but we always regrouped.
After a quick rest stop at mile 30, we took off for the final 20 miles of the ride. Doug was still there. At times, he’d fall back, but we made sure to bring him back into the field with us.
When he was riding with someone else, our riders were coming up to me and saying “he won’t stop talking about how awesome this is”. Every time it made me smile. As we regrouped towards the finish, Doug came up to me and said he would follow us over the line. No way. This was his ride. I gently pushed him about 10 meters ahead of the group. Everyone at the finish line knew him and there were cheers from spectators. I was cheering. I could hear the rest of the guys cheering behind me.
As we all regrouped after the line and shared high fives, I went around and individually thanked every one of my teammates. In doing so, I realized what we had all accomplished. This was Miles4Mary’s day, this was Johnny’s day, this was Doug’s day, and we were able to make it better by simply doing something we were going to do anyway. That’s all that matters.
Doug Russell, Johnny Russell, Miles4Mary, and Health Warrior – thank you for the day.