Reynoldsburg resident Mike Samuelson has cycled in every Pelotonia bike tour since the first ride in 2009, and he carries the same thing with him every year.

He wrote in his online Pelotonia profile, "When I started riding Pelotonia, my grandmother's cancer battle was on my heart. And I asked my friends how cancer had touched people in their lives. The result was a list of loved ones that battled, survived or had been beaten by cancer."

Samuelson, 47, carries a version of that original list in his pocket each year.

"I lost my grandmother, and my aunt and mother had to fight off cancer," he said. "I hate that the list gets longer each year I ride."

He chose the one-day, 100-mile route each year, although one year rode farther to do a part of the 180-mile route. On Aug. 5, he once again will complete the 100-mile route from Columbus to Gambier's Kenyon College.

He said he has come a long way from 2009, when the route went east and south toward Athens instead of east and north toward Gambier.

That first year, Samuelson had not cycled much and "hit a wall" around Logan, thinking he could not go any farther.

"I pulled off at a rest stop, crying, when someone asked me if I had drank any Gatorade yet," he said. "That drink helped me to recover, and I was determined to finish, no matter how many hills I had to walk up.

"Then on a hill between Logan and Nelsonville, I was off the bike walking, and I talked to a guy about the fact I was determined to finish the ride that day," he said. "The guy said, 'Me, too; I have chemo in the morning.' "

He said a close friend named Glen also battled cancer.

"Unfortunately, cancer won," Samuelson said.

He quoted his friend in his online profile: "My cancer does not define me, just as your job, your mate or your weight don't define you. What defines you is your heart. What you do with this life. We are all terminal, we will all die; the question, is, are we all living even now? It's not too late. Start living."

"Glen was a high school friend," Samuelson said. "He was thankful for the care he got at the James and hundreds of us hung on his words as he took the challenge of his life.

"Once you get involved in Pelotonia, you realize the amazing thing is in terms of how much it can raise for cancer research. Everyone comes out and cheers for the riders and you feel like a hero for helping."

Samuelson is a member of the L Brands peloton and has raised more than $23,000 during his nine years riding.

pwillis@thisweeknews.com

@PamelaThisWeek