Rohan Makhijani is an undergraduate student majoring in biomedical sciences. He is also a 2018 Pelotonia undergraduate research fellow and works in Steven Clinton, MD, PhD’s, medical oncology lab. In his spare time, Rohan plays the guitar, takes singing lessons and watches NBA games. He also enjoys podcasts. He listens to basketball podcasts daily and even hosts his own podcast called “Around the Oval” focusing on the Ohio State student experience. This will be Rohan’s second year riding in Pelotonia.
When did you first hear about Pelotonia?
I first heard about Pelotonia during my first year at Ohio State. I joined Dr. Steven Clinton’s lab and worked closely with an undergraduate fellow, Remy Powell. He had ridden in Pelotonia for seven years. After he shared his experiences with me, I wanted to get involved.
How did you get involved with Pelotonia, specifically with Team Buckeye?
During my second year, I began working with Team Buckeye as a part of the Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program. I worked with Team Buckeye’s director of development and rider recruitment team to propose innovative fundraising strategies.
During the semester I was working with Team Buckeye, I was awarded the Pelotonia Undergraduate Research Fellowship for my research proposal that aims to combat skeletal muscle wasting that occurs in cancer patients.
How many years have you been involved in Pelotonia? What routes have you participated in?
I started riding in 2018. I rode 55 miles from New Albany to Gambier.
Last year was your first year riding. How did your first ride compare with your expectations and what you heard about Pelotonia?
Leading up to Pelotonia weekend, I was beyond nervous. I had never ridden more than 18 miles in a single ride and had never ridden on hilly roads. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I knew thousands of people successfully finished every year, and everyone at the event supported each other.
During the ride, I felt the rush of support and excitement, and it carried me through the finish line. Biking alongside thousands of other riders, passing through waves of cheering families and communities, and properly fueling up at the rest stations (thank you to the amazing volunteers) all made my ride an incredible experience. It surpassed my expectations. I realized the power and impact of the Pelotonia community and what it represents.
How do you train for the ride?
I trained by myself on the weekends during the summer. I mainly rode around my hometown neighborhood in Dayton.
As a Pelotonia research fellow, how do the funds raised by Pelotonia help you with your research? Can you give a little background on your research?
The funds raised by Pelotonia allow me to fulfill my financial responsibilities as an undergraduate student while being able to pursue my independent research project and gain experience as a cancer researcher. I’ve been able to work full-time over the summer and part-time during the academic year on my research.
My project hopes to prevent or reverse the onset of skeletal muscle wasting in the context of tumor burden, which is a highly prevalent condition experienced by patients with a wide variety of cancers.
Is there someone who you ride for?
I ride for all my friends who have lost a parent to cancer. I also ride for all the patients I work with as a volunteer at The James.
What does Pelotonia and their one goal to end cancer mean to you?
To me, Pelotonia and their one goal to end cancer ensures a better, healthier future for everyone. The nationwide cancer statistics are staggering, and the nature of cancer is so complex that funding high-impact cancer research is necessary to improve patient outcomes.
Pelotonia’s tagline “one goal: end cancer” also means having faith in people. I’ve been fortunate to experience that feeling by consistently engaging with the Pelotonia community. The impact for what the Pelotonia community strives to make is truly the product of our faith in each other and our unity around a single driving force.
Do you have a favorite/memorable moment from riding in Pelotonia?
This one is tough, I have so many highlights from riding! One of my favorite moments was passing through downtown Granville, where it seemed as though the entire town assembled to cheer on riders and provide us with a spark to carry on.
The most memorable moment for me was coming off my bike at the 40-mile rest station. I was cramping in both legs and slowly falling to the ground next to my bike. Another rider came over to help me up and said, “We’ve almost made it!” As he walked away I read “survivor” on the back of his jersey. In that moment, exhausted and ready to give in, he gave me the inspiration to drink some pickle juice, stretch out and finish the final 15 miles.
What advice can you give for first-time participants?
Embrace the whole experience from the kick-off events, to the start of the ride, to the painful uphill climbs, to the final fundraising reveal. Soak in every minute. The sense of community, togetherness, hope and faith is truly like nothing else.