Galena resident Cathi Nelson rides in Pelotonia for cancer warriors, including herself.

She has participated in the central Ohio bicycle tour that raises money for cancer research since the first ride in 2009.

"I ride for a lot of people," said Nelson, 61, who lives just north of Westerville. "I ride for people who have cancer. I call them warriors. When they (beat cancer), they're victorious.

"I'm a warrior, because I fought it and came out victorious. I ride to help those who are battling it now – those who are on the (battlefield)."

She said Pelotonia is about research.

"The money stays here," Nelson said, referring to Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital.

Nelson had uterine cancer when she was 32 and bladder cancer at age 40.

"The difference between me and a lot of other people is that I'm a firm believer in catching it early," she said. "A lot of people are afraid to go to a doctor. We caught mine early."

Nelson wishes something could be done to take away the fear of doctor visits.

"I don't know what that stigma is," she said. "Once I had bladder cancer, I went back every six months to be checked. I did that for five years, then once a year and I still do. Once you have cancer, the follow-up is great follow-through. They keep a close watch on you."

She said she had a friend who died at 40, leaving young children behind.

"My friend didn't get to see her children grow up," she said.

Nelson said she rides in Pelotonia for that friend and others.

Though Nelson has participated in Pelotonia nine years, she has been cycling for 12, she said.

"I love the camaraderie," she said. "You put a helmet and shoes on and everyone is equal on a bike."

She has completed the two-day 180-mile route eight times and the 50-mile route on her inaugural ride in 2009.

"I signed up for 100 (this year) but would like to do 180," Nelson said.

Nelson is a member of the Team Huntington-PCG, Corp. Comm. & Public Affairs peloton, according to her rider profile.

She said the fundraising can be difficult because so many people participate, and that is why she is registered for the one-day ride from Columbus to Gambier on Aug. 5.

She said she usually raises her own money for the event.

"I used to sell water on Memorial Day and July 4, hitting three parades and made my money," Nelson said.

During the past three years, she has raised funds through cornhole tournaments.

Nelson is so committed to the event that she even participated while facing total knee replacement.

"I was exactly six months out from having a total knee replacement," she said. "It was ugly at times. I didn't have my average speed. It took everything I had.

"The key to riding is you keep cranking. Never get off your bike."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla