Michael Tabtabai – San Francisco, ca
Founder, Creative Director
Rides: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
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.
Randall Fransen – portland, or
Rides: 2015, 2016
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 – PORTLAND, OR
Rides: 2015, 2016
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.
kyle valenta – LOS ANGELES, CA
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.
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.
patrick marzullo – portland, or
Rides: 2015, 2016
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.
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.