Michael Tabtabai – PORTLAND, OR
Founder, Creative Director
Rides: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
My father, Farzad Tabtabai, fought colon cancer, bladder cancer and breast cancer for 11 long years. But he never gave up hope. He never lost his optimism. He never stopped smiling. My dad saw the positive side of every negative situation, and through his battle he taught me more about life than I can express.
He inspired my younger siblings Sara and Ryan to become doctors. And he inspired my mom Lisa to completely reinvent her career, and put herself through nursing school so that she can help others too.
If there is a positive side to my dad having cancer, it is this: his life inspired a legacy that will do a lot of good for a lot of people.
Now I don’t have what it takes to be a doctor or a nurse, but I hope to do some good in my own way. I can’t treat cancer, and I sure as hell won’t cure it, but I can do something to help prevent it.
Andrew Hudon – Boulder, co
I started using my bike to combat cancer in 2006 following my mother’s battle with the disease. Since then I’ve ridden nearly 9,000 miles in four rides in an effort to raise funds and awareness to help prevent it. It has been a story of triumph and tragedy. I’ve met amazing survivors, whose stories are some of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard. Sadly, however, I’ve also dealt with the loss of others along the way.
When I finished The Resilience Ride in 2010, I really thought it was my final ride, that I was ready to leave it behind. At the end of that ride, I was greeted by Rick Trzaska. Rick was my elementary school teacher, the father of my best friend from childhood, and a mentor and friend to me in adulthood. He handed me a set of replica dog tags with the inscription “One drop of rain ripples the entire pond”.
On June 13, 2011, Rick passed away from a brain tumor. I was devastated. He had fought the disease with everything he had right to the end. I couldn’t understand how someone who had always been so full of life and happiness could be taken away so soon. The wonderful thing about teachers and mentors, though, is that while they may leave us physically, a part of them lives on forever in the lives they have touched and inspired. So I will take the lessons Rick taught me about perseverance, courage, and making a difference, and I will carry them with me on the bike.
Natasha fischer – Los Angeles, ca
Rides: 2018 Desert Bear, 2019
Ever since I can remember my dad was always known as THE cancer fighter. His profession as an Oncologist came to an end as the same disease he spent his life treating and preventing took his life in 2012. It was not long after he passed that I discovered cycling and it was the first time I felt the void left by my dad's passing not as empty. Cycling became an outlet I poured my heart and soul into, navigating me through the emotions of loss. The physical strength and endeavors found on the bike have translated into mental strength that continues to support my growth and development in day to day life. In 2019, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, catching it early on, she has gone through treatments and is now cancer free. I am so appreciative for the treatments that have allowed me to spend more time with her. I ride with LIOTR to do my part to support cancer research so others may extend the time they have with their loved ones who cross paths with cancer.
Randall Fransen – portland, or
Rides: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
I have Ulcerative Colitis…
I’ve lived with this disease for nearly 12 years and will battle it’s symptoms the rest of my life. After 10 years of IBD, a patient's chance of developing Colorectal Cancer increases significantly, so I have a vested interest in bringing awareness to these diseases… but beyond that, there are far greater reasons to ride:
To honor others who have suffered and those we have lost.
Gene Burden, my friend (and my girlfriend Larissa's father), also had UC. Gene passed this summer from Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcenoma) that quickly spread through his body. 6 weeks before, Larissa's mother passed from Metastatic Lung Cancer. My father is a recent survivor of Prostate Cancer.
My disease has been a constant reminder of an uncertain future as well as kept me unable to ride with any normal ability for the last 18 months. As I begin to heal in my search for remission, this ride has tripled in it’s significance in my life and the lives of those it may help.
I will be riding Gene’s beautiful Serotta Fierte, a gift I inherited from him, in his honor. I’ve rebuilt this bike and I’m including his name on the top tube, just like in the Pro-Peloton, to make sure everyone knows I’m only taking care of it for him and to remind myself of why I ride.
Jake Szymanski – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Rides: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Eight years ago I started cycling and eight years ago I did my first ride for a cause. It started with a first 100k, followed by my first 100 mile ride, then I began extending my experience to others and organizing teams for the multi-day MS 150.
My family lives with the best memories of my Grandfather who fought brain cancer when I was just 5 years old. Thanks to my parents, I grew up with an endless sense of possibility and belief that one day all our little efforts will do away with cancer for good.
For me, Leave It On The Road is just that—a ride full of many little efforts. Each pedal stroke from origin to destination with the help of those that share in our cause, together make a big difference.
patrick marzullo – portland, or
Rides: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Patrick promised he'd write a bio but he never did, so I'll just do it for him. If you're gonna ride a ton of miles you want this guy by your side. For conversation, laughs, and to have someone to push you a little farther than you probably would have pushed yourself. This dude is always down for an adventure, and this ride wouldn't be the same without him. I don't know how many thousands of miles we've logged in Portland over the last four years, but it hasn't gotten old and I'm looking forward to out kicking him in every town line sprint.
Bianca Pettinicchi – Los Angeles, CA
Rides: 2018 Desert Bear, 2019
My Mom fought, long and hard when she was diagnosed with stage iv glioblastoma back in 2000. She is now an 18year surviver and lives everyday to the fullest as she has been given a second chance at this game we call life. Watching her determination during the years after her diagnosis has taught me a thing or two about positive suffering, smiling when others need it and pushing myself to accomplish what feels out of reach. I find myself riding with those who share similar values on the bike and encourage anyone and everyone who has a positive attitude and willingness to push outside their comfort zone to join me whenever they can.
Crystal haggard – Los Angeles, CA
Rides: 2018 Desert Bear
My story is not unique. cancer has affected numerous friends and family members in my life from toddlers to grandparents. It's swiftly claimed the lives of some, others have battled for years and a lucky handful are in the clear. It's a disease that does not discriminate. I don't always know the right thing to say or do, but I know that while I'm healthy and able, I want to work towards a future where my child doesn't have to wonder if his loved ones will be okay. I'm not just riding for those that have battled cancer, I'm riding for those who someday will and that in our lifetime we'll have a cure and we'll be able to end it.
kyle valenta – LOS ANGELES, CA
Rides: 2016 Mixtape, 2019 Coast Classic
After being sidelined with a knee injury while running high school cross country, I turned to riding a bike for physical therapy. That rehab turned into group rides with older dudes, then into entering a local junior race, and then quickly turned into racing in national championships and in UCI stage races. I've raced for years after my days as junior. Going from taking it way too seriously to not riding at all. I would have interests in other things in life like a career in filmmaking or things beyond sport. However, I have always come back to the bike. And, though I don't ride to the level I once did, cycling is the closest thing I have to religion. It helps provide a north, a way forward. A way of finding myself. Clarity is so often found in that surreal zone within the pain. It gives you perspective, so you can achieve larger things beyond it. Because, after all, there's no such thing as a bad ride.
Katie Mccain – Portland, or
Rides: 2018 Desert Bear, 2019 Coast Classic
The week, leading up to this years ride (2019), I got a text from an old friend, saying that she had been battling pancreatic cancer for 6 months. She didn’t want to tell me because we hadn’t talked in a while, and she didn’t know how to hit me with it. She knew cancer has been a through line in my life since I could remember. As high school kids, she was by my side as I watched my mother take care of my grandmother, who fought hard but could not beat her diagnosis. Shortly after, my aunt, and my mother’s best friend also succumbed to the disease. Witnessing the pain and experiencing the loss is a memory never forgotten. The physical strength and positive attitude I have seen in those who have fought the fight and won or lost is beyond inspiring, and something I hold close to my heart. This year, I’m riding for my friend, who is already so positive and hopeful that they caught the disease early enough, and began treatment immediately. While we’re out there riding every day, she’s going through chemo and fighting the disease. So I’ll do what I can to fight for her, and hope that the money we raise through LIOTR will help in finding a cure. Be positive, be strong! Fuck cancer!
Conor Brady – new york, ny
Rides: 2017 The Big Lap, 2019 Japan, 2019 Coast Classic
A few years back I lost my father to Pancreatic Cancer. We shared a love of racing and riding that created a unique connection between us. He was my cycling inspiration, and also my coach when I raced. A rider who started his racing on the velodromes of Europe and followed the Giro religiously every year until he passed. He was the one who first put me on a saddle, and bought me my first pair of leather racing shoes in Palma, Majorca. He was the one who had his hand on my back all through my racing days when things got rough, and in many ways, he still does. Riding my bike seems like an appropriate way to honor him, and contribute to the fight against the disease that has taken him and many other from us. Ride on…
Philippe Gauthier – portland, or
Rides: 2019 Coast Classic
I lost my father to multiple myeloma in 2008 after a short 18 month battle. He had always been an avid cyclist while I had very little interest in sports, let alone cycling. It was shortly after he passed away that my friend introduced me to cycling and I quickly gravitated to the meditative properties that long days in the saddle provide. Cycling has since become my exercise, my therapy, and a huge part of my social universe.
I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to repay this sport by honoring my father’s memory and all those who have been effected by cancer. I can’t think of a better way to do that than combining the fundraising capabilities of LIOTR with the beauty of a multi-day ride with new friends and old.
james thorpe – san francisco, ca
I lost my dad to cancer is something we hear way too often.
I lost mine a few years before I started a silly obsession with spandex and cycling. He'd think I'm daft for wearing so much spandex, and maybe he's right.
But in my new found obsession with cycling I have stumbled across new places, new friends, and shared stories of the good times, and the not so good. For all of this I'm thankful.
I'm hoping the terrible times with cancer can be reduced by every pedal stroke we make, and I'm proud and grateful to be part of something as special as Leave It On The Road, and to continue helping others less fortunate than myself.
chris burkard – pismo beach, ca
Rides: 2019 Coast Classic
Chris Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.
David embree – portland, or
Rides: 2017, 2018
A few years ago I was staggered when I learned that Mike was going to ride across the USA in an amazingly short schedule. Then I watched it unfold.
I learned about his personal commitment to honor his father, and fight colon cancer. I read and watched the beautiful days, and challenging passes. Today I remain awed by his commitment and his tremendous impact.
Literally every person in my immediate adult family has faced a fight with cancer. My father, mother, sister, and wife. The opportunity to join Leave It On The Road is my moment to honor their strength – and to bring courage, awareness – and dare I say an eagerness to engage – to many others across the world.
Since that first year of LIOTR, my amazement morphed into inspiration. I've always enjoyed riding - which is to say I've always enjoyed the company of my riding buddies before getting mercilessly dropped uphill. I also love a good challenge. My motto this year is "Stoked, and afraid, and I'm diving headfirst into this truly epic ride, with exceptional characters, and I am committed to making a difference for LIOTR's mission, and in the hearts of my fellow riders.
It takes love and courage for Mike to have built LIOTR in this way and to have made this tremendous impact. I am touched and thrilled to join the crew.
Tracy chandler – los angeles, ca
As we set out on this ride, I think of the journey ahead… the miles, the elements, the moments. It may be long. It may be difficult. But the challenge pales when compared to that of fighting cancer. We have all been touched by this disease in some way or another. I know I have. The only thing alleviating the pain of watching others suffer is the hope that maybe, just maybe, I can help in some way. This ride is my way. I am humbled by the journey of those suffering from cancer and grateful for my health and ability to support this great cause by setting out on a journey of my own.
Andre Stringer – los angeles, ca
There are moments on a bike when you find a rare glimpse of into the larger human experience - something outside of yourself - an insight into thetragedy and beauty of the struggle of living. It’s someone you see or a conversation that’s lingered. Living in that moment - outside of yourself.
Three years ago I first stumbled into this idea and it’s been calling back ever since. Riding to help raise awareness and resources. It’s absolutely life-changing.
Connecting. Listening. Supporting.
Ride with empathy. Ride with love. Ride with purpose.
Mike Gallucci – San Francisco, CA
If riding a bike teaches you anything, it’s that you can always keep going.
There’s always more to give. Always something left in the tank. Always a little voice that will assure you that you can make it. Always a friend — or a complete stranger — on the road to get you where you need to go.
Live in the moment. Appreciate it. And when you think you’re spent, press on. One more mile. One more pedal stroke against a disease that has taken so much from us all.
I'm humbled and honored to turn the pedals for those who can’t.
jenn hannon – los angeles, ca
Founder, Machines For Freedom
I started riding 5 years ago when some friends convinced me to train for a century. I had never been an endurance athlete, and never fathomed spending half a day on a bike, but within those first few weeks of training I was hooked. I was a person who usually had trouble getting out of bed before noon and suddenly I was up before dawn just to squeeze in a quick ride before work. But my relationship with the sport really took hold after one tumultuous year in which I lost several people close to me. Heart Attacks, suicide, car accidents, and cancer happened at such rapid pace my heart would skip a beat every time the phone rang, anxiety-stricken about the news I would receive next. It was during that time that I turned to my bike for solace. The bike was a way for me to clear my head when I needed to be alone with my thoughts, or when needed, a way to drown those thoughts out by the sound of my heart beating in my chest. And in the aftermath of that year, when the haze started to clear, it was the bike community that I came to count on, again and again, for friendship and laughter. For me, cycling is a means of healing and a way to do good, both for myself and for the community around me.