by Kristin Leary
While each motorcyclist has his or her own personal reasons for why they ride, no reason is more noble than riding to raise money for a charity. And of all the charity rides out there, few, if any, are more grueling, personal and rewarding than the Women’s Pony Express Tour benefiting breast cancer research.
Because I’m not a member of a women’s riding club, I only received a couple of days notice that the Women’s Pony Express Tour was coming to town. Although I had never heard of this tour before, I was greatly intrigued by its mission and philosophies. After making arrangements to meet the incoming riders at their Twin Cities’ stopping point on Harriet Island in St. Paul, I gained even more respect and admiration for this group of riders.
Unlike other charity rides out there, the Pony Express Tour is far more than just a collection of pledges and donations followed by a symbolic, low-speed ride through neighboring counties. This ride starts at the Pony Express National Monument in St. Joseph, MO and makes a circuit through 44 states in 56 days. The route is broken into hundreds of shorter legs on which pledge-raising riders join in. Four leaders, women and men, are chosen for each leg of the tour.
The truly impressive part of the tour is actually when the bikes are parked. At the end of each leg there’s a ceremony to pass on a special medallion to the next leg’s four chosen leaders. The medallion is a large, four-part piece of bronze. Each portion of the medallion represents a different aspect of breast cancer for those touched by it: Survivor, In Memory, Heart and Future. Leaders receive one portion of the medallion to carry with them on their ride.
Along with each portion of the medallion comes a journal in which leaders can write about their loved one and their emotions along their leg of the tour. This large volume is a touching travelogue of not only the tour itself, but also of the many journeys through the difficulties of breast cancer.
It is very uplifting to see the participants’ camaraderie and dedication to battling the disease. Long hugs, heartfelt thanks and well wishes abound as one leg’s riders part from those continuing on. There is a palpable feeling amongst the riders that they are making a difference.
That difference is raising over $500,000 this year for breast cancer research, and every single penny of it goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Dallas.
The Pony Express Tour will sponsor a rally to be held in Branson, MO in the year 2000. It will be called Get Together 2000. For those wishing to get a jump on this event or to pledge money to this year’s Pony Express Tour, call Vivian Klauber at (612) 721-4459 or visit the Pony Express web site at: www.cybercyclemag.com/ponyexpress98.