Cindy Johnson-Bates: My STP is for my brother Randy’s memory

Seventeen years after Cindy and her brother Randy first rode the STP together, 2017 became the year that Cindy would ride once again, this time in Randy’s honor. At 60 years old, the same age as Randy when he died, Cindy knew this was her time.

But her plans to ride the 2017 STP didn’t turn out as expected. As she reminds us, “life sometimes changes course on you.”

Her story starts back in 2000, when she promised to ride the STP on a tandem with her 12-year-old son Reese, accompanied by Randy and his son Chase. She admits that her commitment was perhaps a bit premature, as she had only ridden a bicycle a handful of times in the previous 30+ years. But disappointing Reese just wasn’t an option.

So Cindy purchased a suitable bike and went to work with the constant guidance of her brother and training partner, Randy. Through the process of training, she realized something that hadn’t occurred to her before: “I cannot express how delighted I was at how much of life I was missing riding in a car or walking to see the sights. You see, you miss so much in a car, and you don't get enough in a walk.” Cindy continued, “add to that the fun I had and the deeper relationship I found with my brother in the process, which made it so worth it.” 

After that year, Cindy and Randy rode the STP together two more times. Randy was an experienced rider himself, having previously ridden the STP, RSVP and many others over the course of his biking adventures. 

And then life changed course. In 2010 Randy was diagnosed with brain cancer. He forged on, but was never quite the same. At one point during his remission, Randy managed to get back on a recumbent bike. But the cancer came back, and Randy lost his battle in 2015.

“I promised him I would do it again in his honor and pledged this in front of all our family and friends at his celebration of life service,” Cindy recalled. “You see, my brother was one of the strongest and most loving brothers a girl could have. He protected me and was always there when I needed a big brother hug, and all in all, had the biggest heart in the world.”

But as she reminds us, life sometimes changes course on you. She wasn’t able to make it to the 2017 STP due to some unanticipated family needs that took her away from her training requirements, but Cindy has a plan to try again. Since 2018 is already occupied with a new home under construction, Cindy is planning to ride the STP again in 2020 as a silver anniversary and memorial ride to Randy. She may even be lucky enough to encourage her son Reese, who is now grown and serving as an Army medic, and her nephew Chase, who is pursuing his goal of becoming a family counselor, to ride along too. 

The year may be delayed, but her fortitude and intent remain the same: “I will enjoy the training and shed several tears as memories come back over the course of the first ride we took with our sons,” she said of Randy’s memory. 

We look forward to Cindy (and maybe Reese and Chase, too) crossing the finish line for Randy in 2020. 

Cindy will ride for her brother Randy's memory. What will you ride for? Registration for the 2018 STP is now open. 

Interested in more stories like Cindy's? Read about the STP journeys of Scott and Leah.  

Diana Bryant's picture
Diana Bryant