• 48°

Vicksburg bikers take to the streets

Connie Soballe, 48, above, completed a 100-mile bike ride to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in early June. She raised $3,800 for cancer patients throughout Mississippi.

(Sam FreemanThe Vicksburg Post)

[6/25/04]The day before she conquered part of the Sierra Nevadas, Connie Soballe went for a ride in the car.

She looked over the mountain roads, past where the guardrails should have been, and didn’t think there was any way she could ride a bike for 100 miles. Once Soballe got on the bike, though, the doubts left her mind. Eight hours later, she had achieved her goal and helped a few people along the way.

Soballe, a 48-year-old Vicksburg resident, completed a “century ride”, the name for a 100-mile bike ride, to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in early June. She raised $3,800 for the organization, which will benefit cancer patients throughout Mississippi.

“What you realize when you’re training and when you’re raising money, is that no matter how hard it is, it’s nothing compared to somebody with leukemia or lymphoma,” Soballe said.

Soballe has been cycling for recreation for several years, but had never done any long races. Late last year, she got a packet in the mail from the LLS about its “Team in Training” program.

The program, called “TNT”, trains and sponsors athletes in marathons and cycling events. In return, the athletes raise money to benefit their state LLS chapters. Soballe’s son had had a childhood friend who suffered from lymphoma, and she thought it would be a good cause.

She went to local businesses, raised money from friends and family, and put in nearly as much effort fundraising as she did on the bike. As she got more involved with the charity, however, Soballe saw how important the work was.

“It seems like once you meet someone who has had that, you meet a bunch of people whose lives have been touched by lymphoma,” Soballe said. “You want to cry. It’s overwhelming to see how many people it means something to.”

As her fundraising continued, Soballe began her physical preparation. She was put on a workout regimen by a TNT trainer in February, and hit her first snag right away. On one of her first training rides, she was bitten on the leg by a dog.

“I was wondering how I’m going to get my miles in if I can’t even ride around my subdivision,” Soballe said with a laugh. “Not to mention it hurt a lot.”

She overcame the early trouble, though, and began putting in miles in the Vicksburg Military Park and on the Natchez Trace. In late May, she did an 85-mile ride and set out for Lake Tahoe, Nev., for the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.

The 100-mile ride through the mountains separating California and Nevada was indeed beautiful, but also risky. The steep roads weren’t closed to traffic during the race despite the presence of 3,500 cyclists.

“We drove up there the day before and I was looking at this and saying, I can’t do this,'” Soballe said. “Once you get doing it, you don’t think about it though.”

Soballe’s pace was slow, but she completed the ride in about eight hours.

“At no point did I think I couldn’t do it,” during the race, Soballe said. “I actually enjoyed it, so my husband and I are going to continue to enjoy it and do it.