Each April, Polk County cycling icon John Cash organizes, directs, and rides in his annual Climb to Conquer Cancer bicycle ride, to raise money for the Gibbs Cancer Center’s Survivorship Program in Spartanburg, S.C. John’s ride, held in Polk County, N.C., generally features up to ten climbs of the famous Saluda Grade on U.S. Highway 176, up to Saluda.

John Cash’s Jeep, adorned with notes about folks he’s riding for. Photo by Mark Schmerling

Each trip up the grade is four miles, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain—not especially demanding, but doing it ten times as John does, and as a few others do, is tough, giving a total ride of 80 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

Linda Votey, left, a five-year breast cancer survivor, who rides on the Beardon Josey Center for Breast Health team. Votey, who rode in this April 29 Climb to Conquer Cancer, is shown with Stacey Kindall, who coordinates the Gibbs Survivorship Program.

Since 2007, John’s rides have raised about $90,000, with this year’s donations (still being accepted) setting a new record at at least $9,000. John rides about 12,000 miles each year, training on the steepest and most difficult climbs (of which there are plenty) in the area and region.

“I would love to see cancer cured in my lifetime,” said Cash, who, with his wife Diane, owns and operates Nature’s Storehouse, a health food and natural supplement store in Tryon, N.C.