MONTROSE – What started out as a family of bicycle riders showing support for a friend fighting cancer has turned into a well-organized ride for regional cyclists that’s a fundraiser for “incidental” expenses for cancer patients and their supporters.
For eight years, the Grin and Barrett Black Canyon Butt Kicker Charity Ride has benefited The Caring Friends Fund, supporting patient wellness at Montrose Memorial Hospital and the San Juan Cancer Center.
"The bike ride has been such an asset as a tribute to Tom Barrett and his support for cancer care. … There is just so much that we can provide through this fund," said Mary Snyder, chief operating officer for MMH.
Tom Barrett, a Montrose business owner, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004. During his treatment program, complications arose that led to a Flight For Life to Denver and two more surgeries.
In a show of support, about 35 of Barrett's bicycling friends decided to join the fight, and created the first Grin and Barrett bicycle ride – a full-day 150-mile ride to and around the East Portal of the Black Canyon National Park.
"They wanted to push themselves through the pain, like I was having to do," Barrett said. "They showed support for my struggles by struggling themselves."
Over the course of Barrett's treatment, he remembers being provided with small comforts not covered by medical insurance, including a massage, as a gift from a local charity fund.
"The Caring Friends Fund is exactly that, caring friends," said Francie Smiles, resource coordinator for the San Juan Cancer Center.
The fund covers things like the cost of gas for travel to and from treatments, massages and movies for patients, and expenses for visiting out-of-town family members.
"Patients come from five different counties, and if you have radiation, you may have to come five days a week," Smiles said. "We give them gas cards or get a good rate [at a motel], and they can stay and drive up and back just once a week. It's especially nice for our older patients. It's a wonderful benefit we are able to do. It's the little things, but the big things too. What you don't realized that you might have insurance, but still can't afford the basics."
That fund is supported by private and public donations – and the annual Grin and Barrett ride, taking place Saturday, July 21.
The Grin and Barrett event is not a race; it’s a ride, and participants are encouraged to go at their own pace and have fun.
There are four route options: 35 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, or the butt-kicking 112 miles.
The 35-, 50- and 75-mile rides that loop around Montrose, Olathe and Delta communities and are scenic and moderately challenging. Riders can start any time from 7-9 a.m., leaving from from the Best Western Red Arrow Motel, 1702 E. Main St., in Montrose.
The Black Canyon Butt-Kicker Century begins at Blue Mesa Dam at 7 a.m., with transportation from Best Western Red Arrow to the dam for riders and their bikes. The shuttle leaves at 6 a.m.; riders finish at the motel.
Interested riders are asked to register for the event by Friday, July 20. Registration forms are available until 6 p.m. at Cascade Bicycles, 21 N. Cascade Ave., in Montrose; participants can also register at rider check-in, Friday from 6-8 p.m., at the Best Western Red Arrow.
Riders registering late for the butt-kicker ride may have to choose a different route if the shuttle service is at full capacity, Barrett said. It is recommend that people interested in that ride register prior to the Friday evening check-in.
A post-ride celebration takes place from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. All riders, volunteers, event staff and sponsors are invited to the Best Western Red Arrow courtyard to enjoy food, beer and other beverages and live music.
Riders’ family members and guests can attend the post-event for $25 per person (15 and older), and $10 per person 14 and younger. Riders get wristbands for attend the event.
For more information, visit www.atech1.com/gbbiketour.