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I was a road-bike virgin when I signed up for Women’s Quest’s Sonoma Biking and Wine retreat and arrived to Bishop Ranch. My temporary home was a picturesque sanctuary in Sonoma County, CA nestled atop a hill overlooking sprawling vineyards and complete with it’s own charming chapel. As church bells chimed and humming birds flitted by upon my arrival, I took in my surroundings and walked the meditative labyrinth garden wondering what lay ahead. Would I be fit enough to keep up with “real” bikers or was I totally out of my league?
I had nothing to worry about.

Colleen Cannon had enough experience on a bike to coach me through any of my hesitations and as I sped over covered bridges and raced down valleys my thoughts shifted to the now. Here I was a fifty-year-old woman playing like I was a five, the smile on my face stretched like a rainbow. All was well with the world. Even better, we were stopping along the way at local organic vineyards to sample wines and nosh–another thing on my bucket-list to check off, but nothing could have prepared me for the Martha Stewart-meets-wine country-table set before us. As I took my seat alongside my new life-long friends and toasted to our accomplishments, I knew that this biking trip would change my life, and it did.

Five years later, at fifty-five ripe years, I am participating in a donation ride from the Key Bridge in Baltimore Maryland to Key West for The Ulman Cancer Fund, an organization that helps young people (18-35) deal with cancer. This ride will be a little longer and perhaps more challenging, but I am ready. My team consists of those, like myself, who have been affected by cancer and some who have the disease, but I am prepared. Instead of stopping at vineyards, we will be visiting cancer treatment centers along our route, making even more life-long friends while pedaling the coast and smiling wide.

If you have been affected by cancer and would like me to ride in you or your loved one’s honor, post their name and I will ride for your loved one(s), and if you care to donate in their name click the link below.

Terri Steel