Like many Pelotonia participants, Makena Lynch was inspired to ride for her many loved ones who had been affected by cancer.
A few years ago, Makena’s family faced this disease for the first time when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer—and for a second time when Makena’s sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer about a year later. Thankful that both of them are now cancer-free, Makena rides because Pelotonia helps her envision a world without cancer.
Raised in an Ohio State family, Makena always dreamed of attending college here. In 2011, her dream became a reality when she joined the Ohio State Women’s Swim Team, and she was a varsity swimmer throughout her years as an undergraduate student.
Makena first heard about Pelotonia in 2014 while she was still a student. Her two best friends had signed up to ride and, excited to support a good cause, Makena planned to join them. However, the ride that year conflicted with an important life milestone: college graduation.
Because Makena couldn’t ride with her friends, they shared their Pelotonia experiences and photos with her. This made her want to participate even more.
“Through their pictures, I saw just how impactful this organization is, and it really made me want to get involved,” Makena says.
Makena, who completed her undergraduate degree in three years, stayed at Ohio State to pursue her master’s degree in Sports Management and then to start her career as the assistant director of Buckeye Sports Camps with Ohio State Athletics.
Still determined to participate in Pelotonia, Makena joined the Team Buckeye superpeloton and rode with the Ohio State Athletics Department in 2017. She and her colleagues took on the challenge of riding the 100-mile route.
"I never thought I’d be able to bike 100 miles, but seeing that my friends could do it inspired me to get a bike and start training,” Makena says.
On the day of the ride, Makena started strong but began to struggle at around 70 miles. She was inspired to continue by the supporters standing along the route.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it the rest of the way,” Makena says. “Seeing the people cheering and holding signs was a much-needed dose of encouragement that really carried me through those last 30—and hilly—miles.”
After completing the 100-mile ride last year, Makena and her colleagues immediately knew they wanted to take on an extra challenge in the following year. Originally they planned to ride the 180-mile route, but they decided on the new 200-mile route when it was introduced in honor of Pelotonia’s 10th anniversary.
As she prepares for the longer ride in August, Makena admits she’s a little nervous. However, she knows the Pelotonia community will support her along the way.
“To me, Pelotonia is a movement that empowers people to get behind a cause,” she says. “Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer, and we all want a cancer-free world.”