The Lobster Roll - The Final Turn


I still can’t believe we rode our bikes from Philadelphia to South Bristol, Maine. As a kid, I can remember feeling like my great grandmother’s house on the Maine coast was a world away. A full, exhausting day in the car led to a hundred year old house with no insulation, no cable tv, no video games with a frigid ocean out front that was unswimmable. I didn’t like seafood much then so the only thing to look forward to was seeing my grandparents and hopefully ice cream.

Over time, I realized just how special Maine was to me and my family. I looked forward to quiet nights and early mornings, waking up to the hum of diesel engines as the lobstermen checked their traps. Eventually I even started bringing my bicycle with me on vacation exploring the backroads and venturing further along the coast. It seemed unfathomable that we could figure out a bicycle route from Philly to the house when the Team started joking about it a year ago. It seemed so far away.

As we made that final turn on to Route 129, I had a swell of emotion. I thought of my grandfather sitting on the porch of the house his mother had owned, enjoying a happy hour drink. I pictured my grandmother years later alone on the front porch, waving us goodbye as we headed home. She continued to come up for the summers long after my grandfather had been taken from us by cancer. As the emotion moved from my tear ducts into my legs, I felt like I could pedal the final 15 miles alone at 100 mph.

After a handful of miles I felt the adrenaline and tears fade and my legs acknowledged the 615 miles that were already in our rear view mirror and I drifted back. As my emotions swirled, the Team pulled past me and I sat in the draft of our single file line. Buoyed by sense of accomplishment and relief, JB moved to the front and absolutely smashed the next handful of miles. We crested hills at full gas, gritting our teeth while swelling with euphoria. I tucked in, watching Brian, Tim, and Nathan riding in unison, and I couldn’t help but feel an intense pride. I thought how proud my grandparents would be and pictured their smiles as we arrived just in time for happy hour. I thought of all the friends and family that had been lost to cancer. I thought of my wife, an oncology nurse, and the medical professionals who work tirelessly to lessen the impact of cancer at their own emotional expense. It was hard not to think of all those things. The massive destruction, physical and emotional, that cancer leaves in its wake.

As the riders exchanged hugs and gently lowered their bikes and their bodies onto the grassy yard, I suddenly realized that we had done it. We had figured out a route (thanks, Brian), we had trained tirelessly, we had done all we could to raise money, we had pedalled for 30 plus hours over 6 days. We had done it together. It still doesn’t seem real. As we all sat on the deck of a local lobster wharf, having one last meal together, it was almost comical to realize that we had bicycled the same distance from Philly to Maine that I loathed to drive as a kid.

We have raised an incredible amount of money in the process and continue to raise more. We have had countless conversations in bars, bakeries, hotel lobbies and gas stations about the Lobster Roll. More importantly, we have provided hundreds of mental health therapy sessions to people who have cancer and people dealing with the aftermath.
We did it. But we’re not done.

Michael Walsh