Cycle for Survival: Riding for a Worthy Cause

This inspiring fundraiser allows you to get your sweat on while helping others.

If you’re looking for a little extra incentive to get on the bike and ride hard this winter, consider participating in Cycle for Survival, a nationwide indoor cycling event that lets you team up with friends, colleagues, family members or others to raise money for research on rare cancers. (Believe it or not, “rare cancers” make up 50 percent of all cancer cases in the U.S. and include brain cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, pediatric cancers, and many others.) All of the money that’s raised through Cycle for Survival goes to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where pioneering research and clinical trials are conducted then translated into improved treatments for cancer patients around the globe.

Here’s how it works: You form a team with four to eight cyclists, who will take turns riding through a four-hour stretch. Then you sign up for the event near you. The next step is to raise at least $1,000 per team. On the big day, each ride includes consecutive 50-minute sessions, with team members taking turns on the bike, relay-style. (Some bold people “Go Extreme”, reserve their own bike for the entire four hours, and commit to raising $4,000 on their own.) This year’s kick-off event was held on February 6 in Miami; other events will continue around the country until mid-March. 

Here’s how it started: Jennifer Goodman Linn was diagnosed with sarcoma (a form of cancer that develops in tissues like bone or muscle) in 2004. A patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Jennifer enjoyed cycling and credited her workouts at Equinox with helping her maintain her spirits and emotional equilibrium throughout her treatments.

Simply put, she wanted to give something back to the cancer community so in 2007, Jennifer and her husband Dave Linn founded the fundraising event. During the first indoor cycling fundraising event, the Linns raised $250,000, with 230 cyclists in New York City. In 2009, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Equinox became partners, and the first nationwide event took place in 2011 (sadly, the same year Jennifer passed away).

So far, the event has raised more than $90 million; this year’s goal is to raise more than $14 million.

I first learned about Cycle for Survival from a woman in one of my indoor cycling classes who has an incurable form of rare cancer. Amy takes indoor cycling classes two or three times per week to keep up her fitness level and prevent complications from her ongoing chemotherapy treatments; she also participates in Cycle for Survival every year (in addition to working full-time and leading a full life). Her enthusiasm for the event was contagious—and for good reason. It’s an inspiring, high-energy event with great music and motivating instructors leading the charge. The vibe is upbeat and festive, kind of like a massive party on bikes—a blast!  

The first year I did it, I rode with three of my indoor-cycling-instructor pals, and our team raised several thousands of dollars (through pledges from our friends and family members). We wore matching pink moisture-wicking tank tops, brought our own cycling shoes and beverages to stay hydrated (though there are plenty of stations providing snacks, beverages, and swag), and we cheered each other on the entire time. It was an unforgettable afternoon.

If you can participate, you’ll undoubtedly have a fantastic time and get a fabulous workout. If you can’t participate, consider making a donation to a team. This is the kind of ride where everybody who’s involved wins!

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