Cancer survivor thrives on her bike

This morning I pedaled out of Harpers Ferry with a breakfast destination fifteen miles west in Shepherdstown. I cycled up the switchback from the canal trail to the main road into town. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a wide shoulder on both sides of the highway welcoming towpath cycle tourists into the quaint college town.

I Yelped Betty’s restaurant and easily found myself parked at the front door. It is the quintessential small-town mom-and-pop diner with a mixture of regulars solving world problems, college students from Shepherd University, and townies out for breakfast.

Not long after I sat at the counter, a lady came in and sat right next to me. I thought this was a little strange since of the 10 or so counter seats only mine was occupied. Was she invading my personal space? I soon found out that she was a conversationalist. I guess I am not a quiet person too. Counter service is the community table in a diner.

Her name was Marty and we struck up quite a conversation. I love Marty’s candidness and open personality. She knew everyone who walked into the diner. We were soon joined by Jennifer, who was quickly introduced to me. It is a wonderful thing to visit the small towns where everyone seems to know each other, and everyone seems to be very friendly.

Marty happens to be a cyclist. She told me she loves her e-bike. She figured it was me whose bike was parked in the front of the diner. That was pretty obvious considering I was the only person wearing a jersey and cycling shorts.

She lives five hilly miles out of Shepherdson and cycles into town to do her errands and usually have breakfast or lunch. Way to go girl! Marty went on to tell me her history of cycling.

She conquered cancer in 2004, as did her husband. She needed to get out of the house and be an active person celebrating her new post cancer life. She bought an e-bike. She fell in love with cycling her bike, Penelope, around Shepherdstown. Penelope is now retired and has been replaced with Sydney.

This spoke to me since in 2005 I suffered a heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery. This has been on my mind the past few days since this week is the 13th anniversary of that episode in my life. I see myself as a long term heart attack survivor.

Marty exemplifies a growing band of baby boomer cyclists who are embracing cycling and e-bikes for leisure and everyday commuting. Like other boomers who discover cycling later in life, she is determined to be active and make it a habit.

This was a chance meeting. Ok, I am pretty certain Marty was going to engage in a conversation with me and turn my private space into community space. We shared challenges in life many years back and both found joy in the seat of a bicycle.

This is also meaningful since I am cycling this week to raise funds for the 321 Ride benefiting pancreatic cancer research. There are cancer survivors who are embracing life. We need to help others be survivors. This is another chance meeting that will definitely live in my memory for some time.

Roll on Marty!

“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.” Jamais Cascio

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