Family on Bikes

A Family Cycles from the Arctic to Patagonia


Boise, Idaho, USA
August 31
Our family of four (with 13-year-old twin boys) dreamed the impossible dream and reached the unreachable star! On March 21, 2011 we pedaled the final mile to arrive at the end of the world in USHUAIA, Argentina! We spent three years cycling 17,300 miles through 15 countries starting in Alaska to get there.


Familyonbikes's Links
APRIL 3, 2012 7:03PM

I’m asking you to become a Road Angel to someone in need. Will you please?

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I believe in the goodness of mankind. I’ve been on the receiving end of the kindness and generosity of my fellow human being too many times to deny it. Now I’m asking – no, I’m pleading – that you reach out and help a cancer victim/survivor in need. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to see how you can help)

rica mendes

Rica is attempting to get her life back. It's a tough battle for a cancer survivor.

Rica Mendes has been a LIVESTRONG Leader since September of 2009 – two years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. “It started as a dare,” she told me. “I was dating a guy who was an avid cyclist who dared me to ride 200 miles in one day. I decided to do it as a LIVESTRONG Fundraiser for my Mary Kay mentor who was diagnosed a second time. The rest is history.”

I talk a lot about pursuing your passion and living your dream. Generally I say those words in regard to something like biking from Alaska to Argentina or some other equally as ridiculous goal. But when someone like Rica steps in and says, “My dream is to live to see my children reach adulthood and to have a house to live in,” it’s humbling.

I’m fully aware that not everyone can take off and ride bikes around the world, and I feel blessed that we’ve been able to. I don’t take that lightly at all.

When I hear about a fellow cyclist and kindred mama who’s struggling, it touches my heart in a way that reminds me of those moments when we needed help. When my sons and were stranded in Bogota without a place to sleep and the Twitterverse stepped up to the plate and rescued us. When we were on the Dalton Highway and realized we didn’t have enough food to get us to Fairbanks and caring strangers who didn’t know us from Adam handed us bags of food. When normal ordinary people saw a need and stepped up to the plate to help us out.

That’s what I’m asking of you now. Here is a family who needs help. I can’t help but think that if we band together and each one does something, we can help. Here’s Rica’s story.


The Mendes family at an awards dinner at Lance Armstrong's house in October

The Mendes family at an awards dinner at Lance Armstrong's house in October - three months after diagnosis

Right now, I’m taking off my hat as a LIVESTRONG Leader & fundraiser. I can’t not acknowledge that role, as any Google or Facebook search will reveal I’ve worked with LIVESTRONG for years. But this is about me, my children, and our home.

I was able to fight off some serious financial setbacks in June of 2011 at the hands of an ex-husband who owed us thousands of dollars in medical bills, and somehow, ended up only ordered to pay a fraction of what was owed. It took me months, but I was able to save up enough to salvage an upside -down mortgage. To make up for what it took to do that, I started to gear up my home business. I quit a part time job at one bike shop for a better paying part-time job at a more local bike shop, one that could offer me more hours during the week after my full-time job. My kids would be going away for the summer, so I was going to work as many hours as I possibly could. After months of struggling, we would finally be in the black.

Only weeks after that huge check was paid to the mortgage company, and after I’d begun making regular mortgage payments again, I was diagnosed with breast cancer – completely out of the blue. And so, my plans to keep us financially afloat went out the window – I had to quit the job at the second bike shop, my home business slowed to a trickle, and my full-time job wasn’t going to pay me my full-time salary. We went from barely making it to being back under water again.

But there was nothing that I could do about it. It was cancer. It had to be handled immediately, thoroughly, and without being able to worry about the financial consequences while going through treatment. My children and I didn’t have that luxury.

Rica shaving her hair at a LIVESTRONG event

Rica shaved her head at a LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin. "I scheduled my chemotherapy around that event so that would be an "up" week. It was about 2 weeks after my first round of chemo. I knew I'd be losing my hair - the chemo I was getting is a 100% chance of hair loss. My hair had, actually, starting falling out in clumps on Lance Armstrong's lawn (no joke). I knew I'd freak out/lose it if I did it at home, and I needed a reason to commit to shaving it. I took sponsors last year as my last fundraiser for LIVESTRONG to shave my head in Austin right before the bike ride. My kids, and a few LIVESTRONG Leaders & friends, shaved my head with me to make it more of a celebration/affirmation moment vs. one of sorrow and loss. I was shocked - I didn't shed a tear. Instead, I felt strong and supported and loved." Check out this video of Rica shaving her head:

As they say, however, it’s time to pay the piper. I tried to make payments to the mortgage bank, but they wouldn’t accept partial payments. They rejected one organization’s partial contribution towards our housing. I could never save up enough to make one month’s payment, so month after month has gone by, and I still don’t have enough to send them a check that they won’t send back.

Now, we are 5 months behind and they are threatening foreclosure. Again.

Only, this time, since I’d negotiated with them last year, there aren’t any other outs. It’s pay up or get out.

We have no place else to go. My bank account is in the negative by several hundred dollars, and will be until my next child support payment (which is weeks away and not enough to get my account back into the positive) or my backpay is paid (which is highly doubtful to be any time soon).

My home isn’t very large. I don’t live in an expensive neighborhood. My kids still share one room. I also know that my mortgage is less than a rental payment would be.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and once you’ve lost your hair, shame is no longer an issue. Please help me and my children.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Share this blog post with anybody and everybody you can. The more people know about Rica’s situation, the more likely we are to find the people who can help. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Post it in forums. Send emails. Do what you can to get the word out about a family in need.
  2. Donate what you can. Think about it. If 1000 people each donated $5, she would nearly have her mortgage paid. Every little bit helps. Here are links to some fundraising pages that Rica set up: and

Want more info on Rica’s story? Check out these links:

Never Say Never

Beyond Breast Cancer: Rica Mendes continues to battle, and share, her courageous story

I am Living Strong


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I’m asking you to become a Road Angel to someone in need. Will you please? is a post from: Family on Bikes. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive your free e-book: Bicycle Touring with Children; A Guide to Getting Started.

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