Ride for Mike – a life changing event

12 Days – $08,300

Pledge to the 2012 Ride for Mike

Today we have a guest writing a post for the Low Cadence blog. I think the first time I met Mike McCaskill was playing golf with his son Michael T. McCaskill. Of course, I didn’t think of it much back then and that is probably why I’m not sure if that was the first time or not. The point is, I never knew at that time how our lives would intertwine.

A week or so ago, I asked Mike to answer a few questions and put them down for me to post here. “What was your first impression of the Ride for Mike?” “When did it ‘click’ for you what the ride was?” “What effect has the ride had on you?” Here is his answer…

Mike McCaskill

Mike McCaskill

Mike McCaskill: “Where am I now, in regards to the Ride For Mike?” is best answered by looking at where I started. I love telling the story of the ride for Mike because I always feel that it will encourage others along the way.

When Jonathan began the Ride For Mike in 2007, Janet and I really didn’t know Jonathan that well, but we thought that it was a nice thing to do for the cause of fighting cancer and thoughtful to do it in the memory of our son. We supported Jonathan financially by giving to each ride he did over the next two years.

2009 Ride for Mike jerseyThen things changed!  In 2009, after Jonathan did the “Challenge To Conquer Cancer” relay from Greenville SC to Austin TX, he gave me one of the jerseys on which he wrote “RideforMike 2009 Jonathan Pait”. I was overwhelmed with his kind gesture.

I began to wonder what this was all about. I went to the Low Cadence web site and looked at some of the video of the ride. On that video, I saw my son’s name written on a pennant, and at that moment I began to realize the magnitude of Jonathan’s efforts and the depth of his love for his friend—our son, Mike.  Now I’m really getting curious about how I can help him with his yearly ride.

We talked some about the 2010 ride, but I still didn’t really understand the mind of a cyclist. One day Jonathan and I talked, and he told me that he wanted to switch gears. Little did I know how large a gear he was about to get into.

He said he wanted to ride for a different reason –not for the fight against what took Mike’s life, but he wanted to bring to light what Mike’s life was all about.  Janet and I had already started a scholarship fund in Mike’s name for students who were interested in going into the ministry to work with young people. That was Mike’s life. That was what the ride in 2010 would be all about — riding his bike down the path that God had taken Mike.

It was settled.  Jonathan would ride from Memphis  to Greenville, then on to Raleigh in seven days, a total of 700 miles. I still didn’t understand what it would take to do that ride.

Well, he came to Memphis and after attending morning worship, he hit the road. Starting out with him was Corey Nelson and Chris Phillips. Annette, the person he calls “the beautiful redhead” (whom I call his wife), followed in the sag car.

Janet, Lora and Grace (Mike’s wife and daughter), and I took off in the lead to help get him headed in the right direction and out onto Hwy 72. It was one of the most exciting things I had done in years. As we headed east, I could see the three guys in my rear view mirror riding and talking. Then about 20-30 miles out the two dropped and Jonathan was on his own.

We could only go about 50-60 miles that day with Jonathan, but it was enough to change the direction of my life. At that time I was 40 pounds overweight, struggling to keep all my numbers satisfactory for my doctors and extremely worried about having another heart attack. As I watched Jonathan, I thought to myself, “you know, I ought to get myself a bike and next year ride 10 miles or so with him. That’s the least I can do.”

We left Jonathan that day riding those hills on his way to Raleigh, North Carolina. It just about killed me to watch him and Annette ride off that day, but I wasn’t leaving my thoughts behind about getting a bike. He finished the ride in 7 days, a total of 700 miles, in one of the hottest summers we had in years. I went home determined to make a change.

Yep, I got a bike and I began to ride. Being so out of shape, and not having been on a bike since I was a kid just about killed me. All I could think of was Mike and how he would be encouraging me to do it. I remembered how he went through so many things and yet did not complain one time or even ask why.

I had to do it!! Someway or somehow, I was going to be beside Jonathan for the 2011 Ride for Mike. It wasn’t easy.

My first ride was less than one half mile. After I finished that half mile, I went in the house, flopped down in my chair with my helmet still on, gasped for breath and almost passed out. Man!! I thought if I could just get to one mile.

It was clear I had to lose weight and get in shape. I got a trainer’s name from Bike World located in Memphis and I called her. Lisa Burch began to work with me on nutrition and core strength. She is a triathlete so she could help me on my bike as well.

I lost 40 pounds and began to feel like I hadn’t felt since I had the heart attack. By the way, Mike saved my life the day I had the heart attack, but that story is for another day. I was getting ready to take the next step in this story.

The 2011 Ride for Mike included a fifty mile ride on Saturday followed by Jonathan’s ride of 220 miles in one day from Greenville to Charleston. This year would be a turning point for the Ride for Mike. Jonathan told me about a beautiful young girl, Rebeka Grace Ellis, who suffered from a congenital heart defect. Jonathan’s idea was to raise money for medical expenses and encourage the family. Great Idea!!

I loaded my bike and worried all the way to Greenville. Had I trained hard enough? Was I just fooling myself? Could I really do it? I had never ridden fifty miles — much less in the mountains!Are you kidding me?

I did it!! I rode next to the guy that got it all started. I was ecstatic.

Now, to bring us back to the present. Many people make resolutions about losing weight or getting in shape, but this was different for me. I had a purpose to be on that bike and ride. Not only because for the first time in ten years the doctor is telling me that all my numbers are in range or that I feel better or that I have lost the weight; The purpose now is not for me, but for others.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy riding or the way it makes me feel when I climb a hill or race with some friends. But if those were the only reasons, then it would get old for me. When Jonathan told me about his idea for the “I Do It For Foundation,” I knew immediately that this was it.

The Ride for Mike now had developed into what his life was all about. To be able to help others in their fight against whatever they are facing, to be able to come alongside of those in pain, and to be able to be an encouragement to them is a purpose that never grows old.

This year at The Ride for Mike I am going to try to do 100 miles with Jonathan and others. I’ve never ridden that far and don’t know that I will make it. I just know that the purpose will motivate me more than ever before to do it.

We are doing the ride this year to help fund the new foundation. I’m riding this year, not only for the memory of my son, not just the foundation, but for some other dear folks who are in the middle of a fierce battle for their life. My prayer is that those who read this will be encouraged to know that there are those that you have never met who care about you.

I Do It For You.