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Everything you need to know about the 2021 Empire State Ride

The Empire State Ride is back for 2021 and we’re ready to advance cancer research from the seat of our bike. We missed being on the road with all of our incredible road warriors and we can’t wait to get back to changing lives, either together riding across New York State or virtually during the 500+ Mile Challenge.

So, ready to tackle this bucket list item? Here’s what you need to know. 

The OPtions

There are two registration options available for all riders: weeklong and virtual. Weeklong riders commit to riding all seven days (from July 25 until July 31, 2021), from NYC to Niagara Falls and fundraising the required $3,500 minimum. The route, which will include exact mileage and elevation gains, will be finalized in early 2021. Our team is working with state officials and will be following CDC and New York State guidelines to keep everyone safe. 

If you’re not feeling comfortable coming out to an in-person experience but still want to participate, the 500+ Mile Challenge is perfect for you. There’s no registration fee or fundraising requirement, and you can train to ride 500+ miles in your hometown. This is a great way to get a feel for what the Empire State Ride is like without the commitment. 

The Fundraising

If you’re a little intimidated about having to fundraise, we have a ton of tips and tools to make it easier on you.

First, kick off your efforts by making a self donation. Then, let all your family, friends and colleagues know that you’re fundraising for cancer research. Promote it on social media and email everyone in your address book. Don’t forget to personalize your fundraising dashboard, download our mobile app (available on the App Store and Google Play) and integrate your fundraiser with Facebook.

The Experience

When you join team #ESR21, you’ll be supported on and off the road – by both fellow riders and our staff. The Empire State Ride is fully supported. What does that mean exactly? As a rider, you’ll get access to:

  • Bike mechanics and repair support
  • Rest stops every 15-20 miles
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner options for all dietary restrictions
  • First-aid trained staff
  • Support & gear buses to pick you up if you need some help
  • Luggage truck
  • Camping accommodations
  • Showers and restrooms
  • Access to a private Facebook group to meet fellow riders
  • Training tips
If you’re taking on the virtual challenge, you’ll get access to all the same online tools. We are here to support you – no matter where you are located. 

No matter which option you choose, the Empire State Ride is the perfect chance to challenge yourself while advancing cancer research. Our road warriors are unstoppable on their mission to help end cancer – become a road warrior and join us on our adventure. 

Roles Reversed: Meet The Osts

When you spend a few minutes with Darwin and Mary Ost, it doesn’t take long to see their marriage is still as exciting today as it was 25 years ago. Darwin and Mary are best friends who spend most of their time laughing together and raising a beautiful family.

In 2019 Darwin participated in his first Empire State Ride. With Mary as his cheerleader, Darwin absolutely crushed his first year, raising over $6,000 for cancer research at Roswell Park. Shortly after returning from the ESR, it was Darwin’s turn to be the cheerleader for Mary as she received the words that no one ever wants to hear.

Her journey began in May 2019, when she started experiencing back pain. As the pain progressed, Mary sought help from doctors, but initially no one was able to find anything. Eventually her family practitioner sent her to a general surgeon for a lipoma on her back, thinking that could be the source of the pain. The general surgeon did not agree and sent Mary for an MRI. Two days later she had the test, and within hours she received a call instructing her to go directly to the emergency room at Buffalo General Medical Center. The doctors came in and informed her that she had a destructive mass on her spine, and she would be admitted. After biopsies were completed, Mary was released to go home on bed rest. One week after being admitted to the hospital, Mary was informed she had large B cell lymphoma.

After her diagnosis, Mary called Roswell Park right away. Within a few hours of that phone call, she was informed that she had several appointments scheduled for the following week. “Monday, we met with Dr. Suchitra Sundaram in the lymphoma clinic, then a whirlwind week where a PET scan, CT scan, port installation and the first cycle of chemo were performed,” Mary said. “They informed me that I would be on R-CHOP for treatment and that there were six cycles, each three weeks apart. After the sixth treatment there was an additional three weeks when we waited for a third PET scan and then the results.”

When we asked how she got through her diagnosis, Mary described herself as a jokester. “When my husband had just brought me home from that initial stay at Buffalo General, I started cracking jokes about ‘having the cancers.’” Throughout her entire cancer journey, Mary’s positivity held strong. “I just set my mind that it was no big deal; so what, I am sick; they know what they are doing, and I will be fixed.

“I was told I was in remission and rang the bell on February 13.”

Mary will be welcoming our riders home as they cross the finish line this year. She does not have the words to express how grateful she is for the 250+ cyclists who will be riding across the state and raising money for patients like her. For now, Mary leaves us with her mantra: “Have fun and be awesome.”