Heather’s Tour de Pink Ride Report

10.21.2011 | 8:00 am

A Note from Fatty: Thanks to the $21,000+ Team Fatty raised for Young Survival Coalition — and because I couldn’t go myself — I got to assign a person to represent Team Fatty at the Tour de Pink last weekend. Heather S seemed like the perfect choice, and after reading her ride report, I feel that way even more strongly (plus I want to participate in the ride next year). Enjoy!


I have never written a ride report before. I am not even sure where to start.

Before being offered the honor to ride for Team Fatty and Weiser’s Army, I had planned to ride the one day option in Tour de Pink. No problem – 62 miles in a day. I trained for that.

It was in January of this year I decided I was not going to let cancer take my dreams. Matter of fact, those things I was afraid to put on my bucket list were not only going on my bucket list now, but I was going to start planning their completion.

First on my list: Disneyland 1/2 Marathon. Although I was in the middle of chemo I signed up; I think my friends thought I was crazy because no one would sign up with me. I had several months to work toward that run since it wasn’t until September. Chemo finished, and some complications (an extra surgery) pushed my radiation treatment completion date to June. I trained as much as I could through treatment because there was no way I was backing out.

I think it was about then that I heard about Tour de Pink. I decided to add the one day century ride to my list of things to complete this year. It was an entire month after the Disneyland 1/2. Plenty of time to train, right? I ran and ran and felt pretty good going into my 1/2 marathon. I finished in much less time than I expected, and was happy. I now had about a month to train for a century….so I thought.

As Tour de Pink drew nearer, I was not getting the training in that I needed. Feeling a little defeated, I decided to opt for the metric century – which I knew would be no problem to complete. With 2 weeks left before Tour de Pink I told Erik – “I wish I would’ve signed up for the 3 day ride. I feel like I am going to be missing something about this experience. Oh well.” At this point it was too late – I hadn’t raised enough money and childcare etc. would just be too difficult to figure out. That is about the time that Erik got in touch with Fatty and nominated me to ride. You know the rest.

The point of this is: I was way undertrained.

In looking at the online profiles for the 3 day Tour de Pink ride, I thought it would be a piece of cake. Sure, I had never ridden more than 60 miles before. These 3 rides looked relatively flat, though. With a bike I love and a great attitude: piece.of.cake.

We arrived in Thousand Oaks the on Thursday night, notreally knowing what to expect. We registered, got what we needed, met a few people and listened to the ride director talk about the ride for the next day. In the morning we would be headed from the hotel to Giant Headquarters in Newbury Park and leave from there. Some steep down hills as we leave Newbury Park, blah blah blah.

Day 1, Friday

We congregated at the hotel, rode to Giant Headquarters. We were greeted with such smiles and enthusiastic support! The short introduction included a few thank you’s and be carefuls and we were off.

Heather with Dustin

The director was right – some steep downhill switchbacks getting out of Newbury Park. After that, some pretty flat road and decent scenery. Erik rode with me most of the time; however, he stopped several times to help cyclists with flat tires and would later catch up. Total cat and mouse.

The group was great. While I have never participated in “speed dating,” I would think it compares. I would ride along side a new friend, chat for bit, get to know him or her. One of us would move ahead or fall back, and a new date would take the place. Since this was the first organized ride I had ever been on with more than, say, 15 people, I found this fascinating and so much fun!


By the time we hit the first rest stop at mile 20 or so, I had broken away from the group and was riding with one new friend and was quite proud of myself. We had made pretty good time through the flat veggie fields and towns! I knew it – piece.of.cake.

Little did I know, the next leg of the ride would take us to Lake Casitas – which also meant over 1000 feet of steep climbing, some parts of the road at around 10% grade, and 100 degree air at the top. This was not what I expected. It was NOT a piece.of.cake for this undertrained recreational cyclist. I remember thinking several times “this has got to be the end of this hill, right?”

I made it up and over the mountains. On my bike nonetheless and with my pride intact.

No matter how tough that ride was, I remember thinking how happy I was that this day would not conclude my Tour de Pink 2011 experience; I was not ready for it to be over and luckily we still had 2 days to go.

Pulling up to the magnificent hotel we were staying in on the beach in Santa Barbara was such a great feeling. 72 miles down, 2 days to go. We showered, checked in, visited for a while with our kids who were there to meet us, and then joined the rest of the riders for dinner. We had time to mingle, eat, and prepare for Saturday’s ride which presented a choice: full or metric century. Both looked like challenging rides but the full century had an extra (and significant) hill just past the 70 mile mark. I decided the shorter ride would be the smartest route for me.

Erik chose to ride 100 miles, and we agreed he would ride at his “normal” pace which meant way ahead of me. Turns out, his pace was ahead of most everyone.

Day 2, Saturday

We left the hotel and headed toward Carpenteria. I teared up when we rode by my daughters Annabelle (4) and Genevieve (2) yelling from the sidewalk “GO MOMMY!!”

Past Carpenteria we rode in to the back hills of SantaBarbara and Montecito. While the views certainly didn’t compare to day 3 (more to come), the ride through country hills was awesome. It was so peaceful – not what most people think of California. The houses were magnificent. I had been through these hills before by car, but it doesn’t compare to the serene mindset that came with being on my bike.

I spent much of this day’s ride by myself and most of it just thanking God for the opportunity to participate in Tour de Pink – that just out of treatment my body was capable of riding this distance, and the stars would align so that I was lucky enough to ride for Team Fatty. I felt thankful for my husband, who was thoughtful enough to send an email to FatCyclist and for my beautiful daughters who would be waiting for me when I finished that day’s ride. In all its cheesiness, I was feeling thankful to be alive (and kicking ass!).

That evening’s dinner and ceremonies included some very inspirational speakers – it was this night I started to really recognize the love in the room. YSC is not just an incredible organization, but a family.

Day 3, Sunday

Bittersweet for sure. While I was feeling anxious to get the last day’s ride completed, I was a little sad the entire event would be over. For just a couple days, the world stood still and we got to just ride and bond. I was relieved, though, that this ride really was flat and might be a piece of cake – or a little easier than the previous rides anyway.

Not only was my body tired, but I had also lost my voice by Saturday morning and probably had bronchitis. None of that mattered; the 52 mile ride on Sunday was indescribable. My family drives along Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean often, but its nothing like following the ocean on my bike – the views, the air, the life.


The weather was perfect. The route was perfect. The ride was perfect. A perfect end to a perfect Tour de Pink.


I mentioned before that the Young Survivors Coalition holds a special place in my heart. After being a part of Tour de Pink, YSC holds a much larger place in my heart. Through meeting so many amazing people and seeing from the inside what YSC is about, I realize that YSC is not only anorganization, but a family. A family that Erik, Annabelle, Genevieve and I will always feel welcome in. That kind of connection is priceless.


Piece.of.cake? Deciding that Tour de Pink will be a longstanding tradition for our family.


  1. Comment by Jenn | 10.21.2011 | 8:17 am

    Nicely done. That looks like a fantastic ride – thanks for including some pics. Also? Your family is beautiful!

  2. Comment by Paul Guyot | 10.21.2011 | 8:28 am

    Great report, Heather. Great ride and great cause. Wish I could have been there.

    Makes me miss the Conejo Valley and all my peeps at CVC!

    Some of the best riding in the country is right there in Ventura county.

  3. Comment by LauraS | 10.21.2011 | 9:01 am

    wow – goosebumps!

    Great job, Heather! And thanks for sharing.

  4. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 10.21.2011 | 9:03 am

    Great race report, Heather! You did Team Fatty proud! That ride sounds both like a good challenge and a whole heck of a lot of fun!

    I’m really happy that the YSC put this great ride together…gives much needed attention to a great cause.

    Thanks again for the recap! Made it like we were almost there with you.

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  5. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.21.2011 | 9:07 am

    What a story! I hope next year when Team Fatty shows up in Thousand Oaks, Heather will be ready. I know everyone will want to talk to her….for the whole ride.

    Thanks also for showing Fatty that the weather is always sunny in California! (Gran Fondo was a freak of nature)

  6. Comment by janey | 10.21.2011 | 9:17 am

    What a terrific report, Heather. Very inspirational. The family portrait on the beach is beautiful. Wish I had been in town to cheer you on.

  7. Comment by eclecticdeb | 10.21.2011 | 10:09 am

    You’ve inspired me to do the ride next year. (All I can type right now due to eyes tearing up).

  8. Comment by Heather | 10.21.2011 | 10:19 am

    Thank you for all of your kind words, I really had a blast!! Can’t wait to meet some of you next year :)

  9. Comment by Christina | 10.21.2011 | 11:07 am

    Awesome ride report! AWESOME RIDE! I’m impressed by your body and willpower, for sure :)

  10. Comment by BamaJim | 10.21.2011 | 1:23 pm


  11. Comment by Nancy | 10.21.2011 | 1:23 pm

    Congratulations on completing the YSC ride! You’re an inspiration to all of us.

  12. Comment by KevinM_TN | 10.21.2011 | 1:26 pm


  13. Comment by Mary VF | 10.21.2011 | 2:16 pm

    What a terrific report & an outstanding ride!!!! Congrats, Heather!!!!!

  14. Comment by Cali_Lady | 10.21.2011 | 2:40 pm

    Great job Heather! My favorite part: “In all its cheesiness, I was feeling thankful to be alive (and kicking ass!)”
    But I don’t think it’s cheesy at all. Every time I go for a bike ride, or for a hike out in nature…I feel blessed to be physically ABLE to do so, as we all know people who can’t.

    Also, love the pictures! Especially the family pic on the beach…beautiful! You have a lot to be proud of! :-)

  15. Comment by Bev M. | 10.21.2011 | 4:27 pm

    Inspiring, encouraging, just beautiful!

  16. Comment by Erik S | 10.21.2011 | 5:12 pm

    I’d like to point out that Heather (my wife) glossed over a significant detail. “some complications (an extra surgery)” was actually a double mastectomy, and she’s still waiting on reconstruction…so Yes, those boobs are fake in the pictures, but the real ones tried to kill her ;)

    Also, big thanks to Eldon and team Fatcyclist for helping me make this possible for Heather to enjoy the support of the YSC group, and for raising so much money for a great cause.

    I’ll be sure to pester Elden next year to get riders for the one day and three day rides. This year, it was $99 registration + $250 fundraising for the one day, and $99 reg + $2500 for the three day.

    I’m thinking it’d be great to get a bunch of team Fatty people in for the one day, and at least a few of us survivors/caregivers in for the three.

  17. Comment by HeidiR | 10.21.2011 | 5:55 pm

    Heather, you really were the perfect representative of Team Fatty, and I think you have yet another extended family here. “Extra surgery”?!!… recovery from a double mastectomy is a long and difficult process, even if it was months ago. Cheers and congrats to you for your wonderful accomplishment!

  18. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 10.21.2011 | 6:27 pm

    Good job, Heather!

  19. Comment by rich | 10.21.2011 | 7:14 pm

    great job and great write up! you’re an inspiration!

  20. Comment by Carl | 10.21.2011 | 8:43 pm

    Great report and welcome to Team Fatty Heather!

  21. Comment by Jennifer | 10.21.2011 | 8:57 pm

    Congratulations on being a Team Fatty Representative!
    You are an inspiration!

  22. Comment by AK_Chick | 10.21.2011 | 9:31 pm

    Awesome job, Heather! On both the ride report and the ride itself. I’m SO thankful that Elden had the idea to raise a bunch of money to help Dustin out and he involved us which led to you getting to ride it. Perfect! Thank you for the wonderful photos too! You. Are. AWESOME! :)

  23. Comment by zac_in_ak | 10.21.2011 | 9:41 pm

    WOW Heather way to go! Makes me feel like a lump :) All I have is diabetes and high blood pressure…Great report and inspiring to us all.

  24. Comment by Dustin | 10.22.2011 | 12:31 am

    All I want to say is Heather and Erik are awesome! Heather smiled all three days all day long. Nothing made me happier that weekend than seeing that genuine smile and her loving family with her.

  25. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.22.2011 | 3:26 am

    Way to go , Heather – And thanks for supporting the YSC. The whole issue of young cancer survivors is a really important one. And folks, its not just ’cause they’re young – there are extra probs – look into it.

  26. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 10.22.2011 | 3:39 am

    Great report Heather and congrats on doing all 3 days. I used to live in Newbury Park and know how steep the hill is on the highway. Yikes! Thanks for the picture of Dustin too, good to see that he has recovered from the Ironman. Blessings to you and your family.

  27. Comment by Heather | 10.22.2011 | 9:34 am

    Thank you thank you thank you for your encouragement! Also thank you for welcoming me into the Team Fatty Family <3 Erik-funny guy. Dustin-thank you for the reminder to keep smiling! If my smile brought one ounce of happiness to you or anyone else, I am honored :) Zac_in_ak-don't be a lump…lumps suck! (haha, little cancer humor for ya). AK_chick-I am SO thankful for Eldon and Dustin too. Two amazing people doing amazing things. LOVE!

  28. Comment by B | 10.22.2011 | 4:50 pm

    Oh holy heck! I just read the comments and saw where Heather’s husband mentioned that the “extra surgery” was a double masectomy! And she trained through that “as much as possible”?

    WOW, Heather, WOW! That’s a huge, major surgery- it knocks plenty of people down for months. Clearly, you are made of very stern stuff! Not to mention funny about it all.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Women like you inspire women like me. You sound like an awesome person.

  29. Comment by Kia | 10.22.2011 | 7:51 pm

    So so very proud of you H. Reading your report made me long to be riding by your side, but you know you would have had to wait for me at the top of that hill. So proud to call you my friend. You are one amazing person. Erik’s pretty swell too ;)

  30. Comment by Mark | 10.23.2011 | 8:56 am

    I am fortunate enough to be a fellow team member of Heather’s on an adult fitness team in the Central Coast of CA. Heather and her husband, Erik, are an inspiration to all of us. So far this year Heather has cycled over 700 miles AND ran over 300 miles working to stay strong and healthy – while being Super Mom to her two beautiful daughters. Thank you Fat Cyclist for sponsoring Heather. She ROCKS!!

  31. Comment by Jenni | 10.23.2011 | 7:37 pm

    Heather, I want to ride this with you next year. You are an inspiration to the hundredth degree. Fantastic job. Absolutely stunning.

  32. Comment by Heather | 10.23.2011 | 8:38 pm

    B-thank you! Kia-I love you and miss you TONS. Mark-Thanks :) Jenni-You’ve got it! Can’t wait to ride with Family Team Fatty next year <3

  33. Comment by Janine | 10.23.2011 | 9:37 pm


    You are a rockstar! It was great to meet you, Fatcyclist could not have chosen a better ghost rider. Thrilled you enjoyed the event, TdP changed my life 3 years ago, and every tour since it has been the most rewarding experience and a gift to myself.

    See you in 2012!


  34. Comment by Ronny | 10.23.2011 | 11:42 pm

    Great post and i like it . have fun
    my last post was Toronto Airport Taxitorontoskyline.jpg thanks

  35. Comment by Liz | 10.24.2011 | 4:33 am

    Allez Heather! Great event report. Best wishes for your continuing recovery and hope to see you in the future.

  36. Comment by Robin/g4 | 10.25.2011 | 11:07 am

    Fantastic post! Glad you had a great time and hope to see you next year!

  37. Comment by Maureen | 10.25.2011 | 12:12 pm

    Fantastic job Heather! You are an inspiration to everyone and meeting and riding with you was a highlight of my trip! I would not have pushed myself had it not been for you mastering those dreaded hills in front of me and inspiring me to not give up. Look forward to seeing you next year!

  38. Comment by jacky | 10.25.2011 | 2:15 pm

    GREAT report Heather – unfortunate about the “chap” you brought with you!!!!!!!!!!! Muaaaaaaah LOVE YOU ERIK!!!!! Fantastic meeting you and so glad how connected you feel/felt to the Tour de Pink – it’s a sucky reason to get together but it’s one of the highlights of my year! Can’t wait to see you next year and maybe Tour de Pink EAST coast should go on your “list” HUGS AND LOVE!!!!


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