June 1, 2012
If I could design the perfect event that combines two of my biggest passions, cycling and raising awareness, the Amgen Tour of California is it! Having the opportunity to follow America’s premier bike race for four days as part of the Breakaway from Cancer campaign was such a treat on so many different levels. It was like eating a seven-course meal of delicious food and still having room for dessert.
It all started with the offer to share my story with the Prevent Cancer Foundation about how I overcame colon cancer and use bicycling as an awareness-raising tool. I spent half my life battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease before I got cancer and didn’t get back into cycling until after I had my entire colon removed and replaced with an ileostomy. That was nearly ten years ago and I’m thrilled to have regained my health and be back in the saddle. What followed was an invitation to attend the Tour of California and since I have family there, I had to go.
After a visit with Mom for Mothers Day, my brother Stu, his wife Molly and I headed up to Santa Rosa for the first day and immediately got swept up in the excitement of the Tour with front row viewing at the Breakaway from Cancer hospitality tent. During the race we got to mingle with other cancer survivors and walk in the Breakaway from Cancer Mile to celebrate survivorship. What an honor to be part of such a moving experience right before the build up to the finish of the race. To be in such proximity to world-class cyclists, hundreds of survivors and all the people who work so hard to prevent cancer and advocate for cancer survivorship…somebody pinch me!
The next three days followed suit as we traveled around and got more familiar with where to be as the racers flew by. We saw some starts, climbs and all four finishes and even got to go up on the podium stage for one of the races. In between the start and finish we had fun visiting the Lifestyle Festival looking for swag, getting autographs and pictures and enjoying the festive atmosphere. Thanks for a fun and meaningful adventure; hope we can make it next year!
Editor’s Note: Bob Baker is a cancer survivor, advocate and avid cyclist.