Although I’ve never ran a marathon or been involved in any sort of long distance biking or running event, when I heard about BellRinger, I signed up without a second thought. So on Oct. 21, I woke up bright and early to bike 25 miles to fundraise for cancer research.
BellRinger is a community of bike riders working together to support cancer research breakthroughs at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. As a student rider, you can ride independently or be a part of a team or student organization or club. I rode with my student group, Georgetown Eco Consultants. GEC is a consulting club here at Georgetown that focuses on community-based sustainable partnerships around the DMV and beyond. Collectively, my group raised more than $3,500 for cancer research for Georgetown’s Lombardi’s Cancer Research Center.
BellRinger advertises the 25 mile bike ride as doable for anyone without training. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to fundraise for an important cause and ride alongside my friends. Although the ride was more challenging than I expected, it was just as rewarding and fun as I thought it would be.
I rode for several people close to me in my life that have suffered from cancer: My mom’s college friends who are like aunts to me, my best friend’s mom and my late grandfather all endured cancer. Everyone knows someone who is or has been affected by cancer, and I was excited to fundraise for such an impactful and important cause. I exceeded the $500 fundraising goal for student riders by r aising $785. I was honored and motivated to be a part of such a great cause and contribute to the fight against cancer.
The ride started at 7:30 a.m. After some initial bike issues, we were off on our 25-mile bike ride into rural Maryland. While the beginning of the ride cruised through downhill sections, the trail was much more hilly than I expected, and I definitely did have to get off the bike numerous times and walk it up the steep hills.
We biked in Maryland suburbs and stopped at a couple of rest stops throughout the ride. It was much colder in the morning than I expected and the wind posed a difficulty I hadn’t anticipated. For the last five or six miles of the ride, we rode through bright forests with orange and yellow leaves. The entire ride was very scenic and made the experience substantially more enjoyable. Although it was cold, it was a beautiful fall day and the route reflected that!
Most of the roads were blocked off for the ride so there was very little concern about cars or traffic. Thousands of people rode for the cause and were dispersed depending on whether they were riding 25, 50 or even 100 miles. It was extremely empowering to be a part of such a large group all riding for the same cause. Although the ride was colder than expected and the early morning wake up wasn’t easy, I enjoyed all 25 miles and finished by 10 a.m.! My friend and I rode together and she was very patient with my inability to make it up some hills… Thank you, Gretchen!
After the ride, there was hot food at the finish line and people cheering from every side. I crossed the finish line in great spirits. Two of my friends rode 100 miles and didn’t end their ride until the late afternoon, spending over eight hours on their bikes. I wasn’t quite capable of that. And though 25 was enough of a challenge for now, I did end the ride excited about doing another bike race in the future. I am a bit of a Soul Cycle fanatic so it was not a surprise I really enjoyed the ride, but 25 miles was a lot and I was definitely proud of myself for proving I could do it!
Alongside a great cause and important fundraising, BellRinger was an absolute success. They raised $1.5 million for cancer research so far, and the fundraising is still ongoing and had over 1,000 riders on Saturday. I am so grateful I got to be involved in the ride and would highly recommend it to any student or DC resident for following years. Even though it wasn’t as easy as I expected, I still had a ton of fun riding for a great cause.