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A Ride For Life: Back to mountain biking after cancer 

On November 9, 2008 one of my favorite mountain biking partners called to say that he couldn't ride that day as he was dealing with a bad strep throat.

It became so bad that two days later he went to see a doctor and by day's end had been given the news that he had stage three, rapidly advancing to stage four, throat cancer.

He called to give me that news several days afterward and then literally fell off the radar as he began to undergo chemo and radiation treatment.

I'd call him from time-to-time and leave a messages offering to do what I could but I never got a call back. Unknown to me, he'd made decision to go through his battle with the aid from only his immediate family and doctors.

Then this past October I got a call from him saying he would be ready to ride again soon. That call was followed by silence until last Wednesday when he called and said, "I'm ready. Let's go."

And we did this past Saturday, the two of us joined by a longtime mutual friend. It was as if nothing happened. We chugged along at a moderate pace making with the nasty wisecracks about each other's riding ability, retelling the latest bad jokes we'd heard and solving the world's problems.

Our ride took us down a seldom, if ever, used singletrack in the middle Deschutes River canyon. It was a fun ride with my cancer survivor friend riding with the same abandon he ridden with before his protracted battle.

At one point, he took a huge beater fall that landed him ten feet down a steep bank. Once we ascertained that he was o.k., our mutual friend quipped: "all we need is for you to get killed riding your bike after beating the big C."

We rode on without incident and ended the day with beers at a local pub. It was a joyous occasion. A friend was back and doing well despite some hair loss and shedding twenty pounds.

On Sunday, he and I took another ride. This one a bit harder with a couple of major climbs that test bike handling skills and your fitness. He passed both tests with flying colors.

During the ride, he talked about how much of his life for the past 14 months were somewhat of a blur. Now his stated focus was on being fit once again and enjoying not only being back in the saddle but also being out with friends.

From friend's point of views, having him back and back in the saddle is a true blessing.

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