When Michele Miller takes to the road for her third Pelotonia ride, she will be easy to notice.

The Worthington resident will be surrounded by enthusiasts on all the latest road-bike frames, but she will be in the saddle of her "regular" bicycle that has a basket mounted on the front.

"People are always like, 'Where's your dog, Toto?' " she said with a laugh.

The fact that a novice and casual rider like her can participate is one of the things that Miller, 47, loves about Pelotonia.

She said she appreciates that it's not about being a professional cyclist or an experienced athlete, but about the feeling the riders get from the experience.

"It's just such an inspiring thing to be a part of," she said. "Either having a sponsor or knowing you're riding for another person ... it's really powerful and you feel like you're making a difference."

Miller, "like everyone," knows many people whose lives have been affected by cancer, and she had a skin-cancer scare of her own – melanoma – when she was 25.

Now out of the woods, she said, she loves the opportunity to help raise funds for a cause she trusts.

"Anything we can do to help reduce the impact, either finding cures or better prevention or educating people, is so important," she said. "But it really goes back to the fact that the money is going to the James and is being spent wisely. There are a lot of organizations out there (that) you can't trust."

Miller, who is part of the Simply Community peloton, said she will ride the 25-mile Columbus-to-Pickerington route this year.

Miller said she once was intimidated by the fundraising aspect of the tour, but said she realized that simply walking up to someone and telling them she's participating in Pelotonia was the best way to find sponsors.

"They just give you money," she said with a laugh. "They're like, 'We don't want your crap. We just want to help.' "

Now a Pelotonia veteran, she said, she hopes she can help others understand its importance.

"I always think of it as just a donation," she said. "I tell people that if they're going to donate to (another organization), donate to this instead. Because you know where the money is going."

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