The foam hand with one finger extended that Davis Tucker handed me the other day makes me a little squeamish, but the cause is a good one.
He calls it “Don’t fear the finger,” and that finger, of course, is the one a doctor uses to check for prostate cancer. Tucker’s mission is to get 1,400 guys to take that test.
To do that, Davis is leading a group of bicyclists on a 1,400-mile ride from Austin to Denver to encourage people to talk about prostate health. The 14 cyclists will pedal an average of 100 miles a day for two weeks, starting Sept. 6.
(And if you’d rather do a local one-day ride, which I plan to do, keep reading.)
Tucker, who owns NxNW Brewery, started the event three years ago, motivated by brewmaster Don Thompson’s battle with prostate cancer. Thompson has undergone treatment for the cancer twice, but is doing well now and continues to work at NxNW, where he oversees brewery operations.
“He’s my combination brother, father and craft brewing mentor,” Tucker says.
The riders will pedal between through the Hill Country and into the mountains, tackling Wolf Creek Pass and other challenging terrain along the way. They’ll arrive in time for the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, where they’ll set up a trailer where participants can get a quick blood test to check their prostate specific antigen, or PSA, levels.
High PSA levels sometimes – but not always – indicate prostate cancer. The best test is a digital exam by a physician.
“I’m as ready as I can be, but you never know what’s going to get you on the road, and that’s very much like cancer in general,” Tucker says. “How are you going to respond?”
Money raised through the ride and other 1400 Miles events are used not for research, but to raise awareness about the need for men to get checked for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. If detected early, it can often be treated successfully.
In the three years since it was founded, the organization has raised almost $300,000.
“The money is more about getting men to pay attention and be aware of what their responsibility is personally to get checked,” he says. “That’s our whole goal with this.”
If two weeks in the saddle sounds like too much, a one-day community ride is planned for Aug. 29, with 24-mile, 40-mile and 60-mile options.
That ride originates at the Twisted X Brewing Company, 23455 West RR 150 in Dripping Springs, and when you’re done riding, you get beer and barbecue. (You can even get free PSA blood testing at the site, for a mere prick of the finger.)
Look for me at the local ride. I’m planning to be there. Entry fee is $45. To register, go here.