Each year on November 3rd there’s somewhat of a cycling holiday in Southern California. Regardless of whether it falls on a Monday, Thursday, Saturday, or Friday like it will this year, over the previous eight editions the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride has grown larger and larger, pulling in cycling industry luminaries, pro athletes, and hundreds of other riders simply wanting to be part of the day. What’s special about the event isn’t just the route, or how well organized it is (both are fantastic), it’s something much bigger and the reason why the ride even exists in the first place.
On November 3rd, 2004, Mike Nosco was tragically killed in a traffic accident on his way home from work. Before his death, Mike was a 20 year veteran of the Navy and about to be deployed to Iraq for his third tour. His older brother, Jack Nosco, wanted to make his memorial an annual celebration of life and turn that terrible day into something positive. To do that, he decided a bike ride in Mike’s honor would be a good way to celebrate his brother’s life; so he created an 80-mile route that would pass by the site where his brother died and then go on to tackle three of the most challenging climbs off the Pacific Coast Highway in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu. Jack would ride that route every November 3rd, often by himself, but in 2009 that solitude would change when his friend and former Team 7-Eleven rider Roy Knickman called Jack to let him know his son Andreas was diagnosed with cancer.
A PLAN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
“I got off the phone with Roy and immediately knew I wanted to use the ride to raise money,” Jack told us about how the event got started. “I figured if I got 10 friends to join me and put in $100 each we could do the ride and finish at Roy’s house and drop off $1,000 to help with bills or anything else involved with Andreas being in the hospital. Every one of the guys loved the idea and asked if they could invite more friends. It went from 10 people, to 25, then 75, and by the time the 3rd came we had 150 people. The day after the ride my daughter and I rode over to Roy’s house and dumped $15,000 out of my backpack and told him there were no strings attached. It’s for you and this is what our community is about.”
Since that first year the ride has grown every year, with 796 riders registered and probably another 150 to 200 that jumped in last November. Support hasn’t just come from the riders though, there’s also been an outpouring from the industry with donated apparel, bikes, and parts.
“It’s unbelievable really, I’m always gratefully humbled by the outpouring of support. I’m not a salesman by trade, I’m a firefighter, so when people want to be involved I just ask them to do what works for them. Take Trek for example, they’ve probably provided about $100,000 in bike value over the nine years. They’ve been golden and I’m loyal to those brands. It’s amazing. It re-instills faith in humankind. In reality, it’s the people that make a difference and change the community," Jack said.
DONATIONS OVER REGISTRATIONS
Unlike just about every other event, there’s no registration fee. A light morning breakfast with coffee, food and drinks at the rest stops and a full lunch are all open to everyone, at no cost. But for those that do want to donate, they’ll receive a custom Primal jersey with a $100 donation, or a jersey and bib short with a $175 donation, which is less than what it would cost to buy the apparel on its own.
This year, 100% of the donations will be split between four people who were chosen through an application process. Denise Burke is a single mother of three and is fighting a rare cancer. Once she finishes with chemotherapy, it’s expected she’ll need to have her leg amputated below the knee. John Van Mannekes was a local Ventura City Fire Captain and cyclist until being diagnosed with ALS. He is now confined to his power wheelchair as his health continues to deteriorate. Gerhard Gross was diagnosed with Stage IV Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death. Gerhard and his wife Kris have a baby boy. The final recipient is 15-year-old Sam Audenino who was involved in a mountain bike wreck and is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Even as this year’s event is on pace to once again bypass the size of the previous edition, there will be one rider noticeably absent. Just like Jack’s brother Mike, Steve Tilford was killed in an automobile accident earlier this year. “We’ll be celebrating the life of Steve Tilford whose persona and tenacity in life sums up what the event is about”, said Jack. “The effort he always went through to come from Kansas in order to do the ride every year meant so much to me.”
Topical Edge is proud to support the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride and will be present at the event, in addition to donating 50% of all product sales to the the Mike Nosco Foundation using the code: NOSCO50.
For more information on the Mike Nosco Memorial ride, go to www.mikenosco.com.
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Pictures by VeloImages