Photos courtesy of Hannah Conway.
She had been training selflessly, cycling with a cure for cancer in mind, when she was forced to stop training, mid-practice.
The Southland woman had been training for a triathlon to raise funds for a cancer research organization when her bike was snatched from its place on the shore, during a swim in the waters of Long Beach on a recent Saturday morning.
Such an event might have ended any other individual's attempts to complete a triathlon. But not 28-year-old Hannah Conway.
While she continues her quest, temporarily using someone else’s bicycle to continue her arduous training, Hannah's have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for a new bike. So far, almost $2,000 of a requested $3,000 has been raised.
Conway said she had locked up her bicycle, a Felt AR5 with a black and red frame, to a bike rack at a parking lot near Ocean Boulevard and 54th Place while she and her training group went out for a swim that lasted about an hour and a half the morning of Saturday, Aug. 6. Her bike was the only one taken.
She said that following the 2.4-mile swim, she had a 90-mile bike ride planned after, followed by a 30-minute transition run. While her group carried on without her, she stayed back and filed a police report.
The exercise was all part of a training to get her ready for an Ironman event in October, during which she is also raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, she said.
“This bicycle, in addition to being expensive, carried a lot of memories,” Conway said in an email. “I completed my first Ironman with this bike. Anyone that has owned a bicycle and trained for events like this can attest to the sentimental value beyond the price tag. During training and during races you can go to some pretty dark and vulnerable places and your bike is what is with you during that time.”
Conway said that despite this setback, her main goal is still to raise $20,000 for the cancer research group she has helped for the last couple of years and for which she has a personal connection.
Last year, after completing an Ironman event, Conway’s mother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, prompting her to sign up for another Ironman to raise funds for the LLS in her honor and raise enough to get a research grant named after her, Conway said.
“I have seen the destruction of cancer first hand,” Conway said. “I am 28 years old and had to feed my mom because the treatment made her too weak to do so herself. I watched her as she was barely able to walk and due to complications for a period of time she even lost her ability to speak. It is terrible to watch a loved one fight so hard against a thing that has one goal—to destroy and kill you.”
Conway said if having her bike stolen brings more awareness to her fundraising campaign then it makes the loss more bearable.
“It brings something good out of something bad,” she said.