Riding with Amazons

I just got back from my second motorcycle ride with Amazon Heart-- the group that provides healing adventures for breast cancer survivors. Those of you who follow the magazine know I did a story on the ride that I did from Los Angeles to San Francisco last fall for our spring issue. The ride I just completed was from Brisbane, Australia, to Sydney, Australia, and had 40 women taking part. The women came from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, and the UK, and it was the last Australia ride and the largest group that founders Meredith Campbell and Megan Dwyer had ever taken on an adventure. Boy, what an adventure it was! We left Brisbane on the tail end of a huge storm system that literally caused the evacuation of a number of small towns along the coast – exactly where we were going. This caused detours around roads covered with water – and a few days of riding in driving rain. If you go to amazonheart.org and look at the daily blog for the ride there is one picture of the group from the back while we are riding in a downpour. Through the rain you can see one white helmet on a rider – that would be me. Despite the sometimes soggy riding, the camaraderie of the ride was amazing. Picture 40 women from different cultures who all heard the same words, "you have cancer," and who all have struggled with the same issues. It was like there was one scar in that room that wound around the chests of all 40 of us, linking us in ways that are inexplicable to anyone but another survivor. It was the common link that made the extreme weather and exhaustion of riding bring us closer together. The riding part for me was a bit of a challenge this time. I was on a Harley Davidson Road King, which was the biggest bike on the ride and, while the weight made riding nice, it presented problems when I had to go really slow or make tight turns. At one point I ended up straddling the bike as it lay on its side at a gas station after I tried to manhandle it around a turn. Within seconds there were six women there to pick it up. It's an image that resonates for the whole trip. We lifted each other up. No one told me I was doing it wrong, gave me advice, or left me to my own devices to figure out how to get the 1,000 pound bike upright -- they just jumped in to help. It's what survivors do for each other. The end of the ride was hard, knowing that the chances of seeing each other again for many of us are slim. But there were promises none the less. I am already looking at ways to entice some of my new international sisters to come to Texas to ride the Hill Country in 2010.