Jenney was an avid cyclist who used and loved riding her e-bike for only a few months as her health and fitness waned during treatment for stage 4 uterine serous carcinoma at Anschutz Cancer Center. I have wonderful memories of riding with her on our favorite 40-mile loop and Bear Creek Lake Park. She was so excited after one of her first rides that she proclaimed, “yes, you can get great exercise on an e-bike.”
Jenney was not a natural athlete (as she said many times), but when she got an idea to do something in her head, she was incredibly determined to succeed at it. We used to ride mountain bikes in New England back in the day (no suspension!), but only started road cycling in 2012; renting road bikes in Breckenridge and being amazed that we could actually ride 30 miles around Lake Dillon. A week later, Jenney came home with a new carbon road bike and all I could say was “where is mine?” Two years later we were doing the Copper Triangle, Circle the Summit, Moab Gran Fondo and many others. We joined the Pedal Racing team and she took first place in the Lookout Mountain hill climb in her category (ok, she was the only 60+ woman to show up, but that is half the battle – showing up – we always said). Even after being diagnosed, Jenney continued to ride. She did 100 miles in Santa Fe, Tour of the Moon at the Colorado National Monument, a mountain bike clinic in Fruita and we spent countless hours riding around Summit County, Bear Creek Lake Park (one of her favorites) and so much more. Most of the time she struggled to go as fast as she used to, but as long as we were together and enjoying the out of doors and being physically active, I think she was happy.
After the failure of her last Phase 1 trial, Jenney’s health and stamina began to wane and I suggested an e-bike (I also suggested a tandem bike, but she had no interest in just sitting on the bike in the back while I had all the fun!). What she wanted at first was something with a hidden battery that looked just like her road bike, but you could only buy those in Europe, and since we were afraid there wouldn’t be time to wait, we “settled” for this lovely Cannondale Neo.
Well, settling is not the right word because she thoroughly enjoyed riding it, even if it was only a handful of times. And of course we had to test the range of the battery at different assist levels and compare how much power I had to generate to go at her pace on the climbs. I think she was so excited that she could get some exercise, even in her weakened state, AND not slow me down.
Before she died she apologized for buying so many bikes (she also bought a beautiful mountain bike that she had been craving for years and a gravel bike, which I think she really intended for me after she was gone), but it was worth it (and I told her so) because she got such great enjoyment out of them, even if it wasn’t for very long.
And now after reviewing the submissions from the six women that I am considering to receive this bike donation, I wish I could give it to every one of them. They all have such touching stories and to help improve any of their lives with this bike, as Jenney’s life was improved, is exactly what I was hoping for.
In the end, though, I am choosing Mary Johnson and hoping that this bike will “feed her soul” as cycling used to do.
I hope that if Mary finds she no longer needs the bike (hopefully due to improved health), that she will follow my lead and pay it forward again. And maybe this simple act can be repeated over and over again to improve many lives through the simple joy of propelling oneself through the world on a bike!