The Pelotonia charity bicycle tour has personal significance for Bexley resident Larry Haas.

The owner of Bexley Optical Boutique has a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in late 2013.

Haas, 65, said he thought the nausea, stomach cramps and other symptoms he was experiencing were related to food poisoning.

One day, the symptoms became so severe that Haas' wife, Leslie, insisted on taking him to Mount Carmel East Hospital.

"The doctor, he says, 'Your blood's good, your liver's good. We're probably not going to find anything,' " Haas said.

After his wife insisted something serious was going on and convinced him to proceed with a CAT scan, "the doctor came back with a sheepish look on his face," Haas said.

Haas immediately was admitted to the hospital and had surgery to remove a softball-size tumor.

After his recovery, he decided in 2014 to join the local Pelotonia riding club after being referred by a friend who was a member of the Team Bexley peloton.

"I always bicycled. I just did regular neighborhood stuff – didn't take it real seriously," said Haas, who grew up in Eastmoor. "I encountered colon cancer. When that happened, I decided to get involved."

Haas said he enjoys the camaraderie with the other Team Bexley cyclists, the exercise and, most importantly, raising money for a good cause – cancer research at the James Cancer Hospital.

But he encountered another serious medical situation when he got into a cycling accident while training with the team in May 2016. He spent three days in the hospital with three cracked ribs, a pelvis injury, a concussion and a separated shoulder, but was still able to complete the Pelotonia ride last year.

Haas later had a second bicycle accident but is looking forward to riding with Team Bexley this year.

Before his second accident, "luckily, Team Bexley had bought me a new concussion-proof bike helmet," Haas said. "It just had a scratch on it."

Haas plans to pedal the 55-mile route from New Albany to Gambier, the same route he completed in 2016.

When he isn't cycling or seeing patients at Bexley Optical, Haas and his wife enjoy spending time with their two adult children and two grandchildren.

However, he now takes precautions before setting out on bike rides.

"I've learned to stay off wet bike paths and sidewalks," he said.

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