Bicycling (South Africa)
ON 17 JUNE 2013,
Michael Tabtabai spread his father’s ashes into the Pacific Ocean, got on his bike, and rode east. With his friend Andrew Hudon by his side, he set out to ride from Seaside, Oregon, to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The cross-country journey was an epic tribute to his dad (who had lost his 11-year battle against colon cancer in 2011), and raised money to fight the disease that killed him. They called that ride Leave It On The Road. They averaged over 250km a day, reaching many of their nightly destinations guided only by the headlights of their support van. Standing in the Atlantic Ocean 24 days later, popping bottles of champagne, Tabtabai felt changed. He knew he couldn’t stop. So he planned a new ride the next year, and another the year after that. Tabtabai started inviting friends looking to do big, meaningful rides of their own. In 2015, Portland bike racer and producer Randall Fransen joined the crew that would travel from Portland to San Francisco. Fransen’s mother- and father-in-law both died of cancer, his father battled cancer, and he battles ulcerative colitis, a disease with long-lasting symptoms that significantly increases his chances of getting colon cancer. The ride began just as he was coming off an 18-month spell of acute colitis that had made many day-to-day functions, let alone cycling, impossible. Despite his doubts that he’d finish, he rode the 1 320km and found what he calls “a more singular passion than anything I’ve ever done”. Since then, he’s been a part of the core LIOTR group. He’s also now an elite cyclocross racer, thanks in some part to the structure provided by preparing for LIOTR each year. Bicycling sat down with Tabtabai and Fransen to talk about the magic of committing to a huge crazy goal, the power of riding for a cause, and how combining the two can change your life.