I am just catching my breath after an incredible two days in the beautiful Midwest. As I write, I am getting ready for my final ride. It is amazing what we have done to get to this spot.
Wednesday was an electric day, which began in Mason City, IA surrounded my family. The Hope Rally at the Mercy Cancer Center was jammed with hundreds of people when the Owens family arrived en masse from Minneapolis. Getting hugs from Papa and Nana, my riding partner and big bro John, big bro Tom, and big sis Mary, and my nieces and nephew gave me renewed strength. Thanks everyone! But, the most important meeting was with a family whose two year old boy was newly diagnosed with a brain tumor. I told them to have hope and know that their son gave me the determination to focus and to push the pedals hard that day.
I needed that strength as several miles out of town Lance Armstrong joined our peloton. He slowed down for the ride so we could actually keep up with him. I had time to tell him what he meant to me in my battle. He changed me from victim to survivor. We had some fun too. We were sharing a joke when he said it was about time to start watching for 2003 Tour of Hope Team member, Bart Knaggs, in case he went for the traditional "Town Line Sprint" and he looked over his shoulder in time to see Bart and my teammate Darren sprint by. The three tore away and one minute later the verdict was in -- Darren wins!
The ride was beautiful and thank you to all the wonderful kids out o school lining the route! Iowa is a great place. I will be coming back to ride there sometime. Our arrival at South Winneshiek Elementary School was a special ending. I did feel incredibly special with their warm welcome. While speaking and signing autographs, I met a smiling, brave boy truly winning his battle with his brain tumor.
More to come soon!