“It has affected me — not directly in my family but more indirectly,” Penney said. “It leaves an impression when you’re dealing with young kids and you’re helping them navigate through life-changing challenges.”
In normal years, the Pelotonia starts in downtown Columbus. Riders choose different lengths of rides. Some ride 180 miles over two days to Gambier.
This year, the Pelotonia redefined the experience, asking riders to choose their own fundraising goals. Participants could ride, run, walk or choose another activity. Penney’s group rode 58 miles along the bike path from London to Miamisburg.
“The path we chose was very hot and very humid,” Penney said. “I struggled at about 50 miles. I was just dead. The hill in Miamisburg was a killer. We ended up walking, all three of us. Overall, it was really really fun. I was tired. I was spent. I had nothing left in the tank, but I got up the next day and felt good, which at my age is pretty good.”
Penney was happy to contribute to the cause even if he didn’t get the normal experience. Thousands of riders participate together in normal years, and spectators cheer the riders throughout the event from the sides of the roads.
“You go through Granville, and the whole city’s out,” Penney said, “and they’re all cheering. The emotional part for me (in past years) was when I got done. As I went along, I had the names of people I was riding for on my phone. When I started struggling, I said these people have had more of a challenge than me riding this bike, and that motivates you. It’s emotional.”