On June 17th, Mike Tabtabai and Drew Hudon set out on Leave it on the Road, a 3,500 bike ride across the country. In just 24 days, they journeyed from Oregon to Massachusetts, raising money and awareness for the Colon Cancer Alliance and Colon Club along the way. We sat down with Mike and Drew to hear what inspired them to get involved and how their cause is gaining momentum.
What inspired you to start cycling?
Mike: I got into cycling in my mid 20’s as a way to stay fit. I ended up falling in love with the sport and the evolutionary nature of building fitness on the bike. As Greg Lemond famously said: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”
Drew: It’s hard to really say when I actually started. Growing up, I got into racing mountain bikes, then got into road bikes as cross training for speed skating, and then started racing those. When I was in college, there was a nightclub fire in Rhode Island where 101 people died. I organized a ride to benefit the victims and their families. That was when I realized I could use my bike to inspire people and bring change. The rides and the message have grown since then, but the basic principles have remained the same: push myself to my physical limits to get people’s attention and tell a story that needs to be heard.
You’ve both lost loved ones to cancer - what would you say to our readers who are going through a similar experience?
Mike: My father battled three different types of cancers for nearly 11 years. And although I saw him go through a lot of really tough times, he never lost hope and he never lost his sense of humor. If I look at the positive side of those years, it brought our family a lot of perspective and it brought us closer together.
Drew: It’s easier said than done, but focus on the positives. Try to carry on the way that person would have wanted you to. I know for me, trying to do something positive for the world in that person’s memory has helped a lot.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get involved in biking and/or fundraising for a cause they are passionate about?
Drew: First, match your passions. Mike and I are passionate about the cancer cause and cycling. We’ve each spent several hundred hours (almost two full weeks) on our bikes to get ready for Leave it on the Road. If we didn’t love what we were doing, that kind of commitment would be daunting.
Second, it’s important to know yourself and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Find a teammate with complimentary skill sets and divide up the planning work.
The photos on your Instagram and website are incredible - who takes the photos on your trips?
Mike: I do most of the photography. I’ve gotten pretty good at riding with no hands, composing images. One of the things that was most important to us was to share the full story, from training to working with sponsors to the ride itself. And we’re both fortunate to live in beautiful places, which makes it a lot easier to take great photos.
How did you find out about the Colon Cancer Alliance? What made you decide to get involved with the organization?
Drew: Our 2010 ride was done to benefit the Colon Club, a small grassroots organization founded by a friend of mine. We knew we wanted to make Leave it on the Road much bigger, so we wanted to work with a bigger charity who would benefit from the higher fundraising goal. Having worked with colon cancer survivors for a few years, the Colon Cancer Alliance came highly recommended. The four star rating on Charity Navigator was a great confirmation.
Nearly 350 individuals have donated to the Leave It on the Road journey and mission - join the club!