John's Journey

 

 

Fifty-two days of riding, 3,553 miles spanned, roughly 136,000 feet climbed and, most importantly, approximately $81,500 raised to date to benefit lung cancer research and patients: that is the "tale of the tape" of SAP executive John Matthews' successful coast-to-coast "Ride Hard, Breathe Easy" bicycle journey from southeastern Pennsylvania to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to raise awareness and funds for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and to the Lung Cancer Alliance.

 

The journey, which was completed on Oct. 14, 2017,  was grueling, both mentally and physically for Matthews and his team of riders. The scenery was breathtaking, and the long months of training in preparation proved vital but there were many challenges along the way.

 

"Physically, it was tough. The hills we climbed in various portions -- Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado and Utah in particular -- were very challenging," Matthews said. "But there was one day in particular, the 17th day, where I felt totally drained mentally. That day, I struggled to find motivation to ride and I had to find some inspiration."

 

A big part of what kept Matthews going was that he publicly dedicated each day of the ride to a different person. He also found inspiration in a blog from his former principal at St. Joseph's Prep. 

 

"That it what motivated me to push onward and ride, thinking about the promises I'd made and the people who inspired the idea for the trip in the first place, especially my late mother. I thought about all the people who were supporting the ride, whether it was financially through donations or by expressing admiration for what we were doing and following along with the progress. I also thought about the sacrifices made by the rest of the team and everyone who'd been helping me," Matthews said. 

 

The best part of the trip, Matthews said, was when his family, including wife Beth, and assorted close friends met with him in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the ride. 

 

There is also a Flyers Alumni related component to the story, as John is a lifelong diehard Flyers fan and a friend of the Flyers Alumni Association. He has forged a bond of friendship with Alumni Association president Brad Marsh; an avid bike rider who once did a fundraising ride across Canada and co-founded the Flyers Charity Classic event, which will enter its second year in 2018.

 

"I was amazed by how well planned and organized the details were of John's trip, day to day," Marsh said. "But even more than that, I was inspired by how devoted John is to the cause he supports."

 

On the day Matthews set out from SAP headquarters in Newtown Square, PA, on the first day of the ride, Marsh was there to present Matthews with a Flyers bike jersey. Matthews wore the jersey a few times on days he pre-selected such as Oct. 4 (which coincided with the Flyers' opening night of the 2017-18 regular season). 

 

"I would check to see if the Flyers won or lost but I didn't get a chance to watch any games until I got back home," Matthews said. 

 

On Oct. 21, when the Flyers hosted the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center, Matthews and his son attended the game. During the first intermission, he had a visitor: Brad Marsh stopped by to congratulate him in person for the successful ride and to swap some cycling stories. 

 

For more about the back story of "Ride Hard, Breathe Easy" or to make a donation, click here.