Community Profile: Bike race founder raising funds for cancer research

By: Michael Kirby,Auburn Journal
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It’s not if — it’s when. Sometime in our lives we will all be touched by cancer. It’s a fear most of us have. The disease creeps in and attacks our bodies without mercy; women, men, children, young and old — nobody is immune. Watching a loved one succumb after fighting a long battle with cancer is one of the most devastating and saddening ordeals a person will endure. One local man’s solution has been to fight back. the only way he knows how. After experiencing the loss of a very close friend who died from the disease, Auburn resident Jim Northey felt helpless. Men are funny that way. They look for ways to fix things. Doesn’t matter what it is, there has to be a way to fix anything. And if you can’t fix it as good as new, you try anyway. It’s a way to overcome helplessness. Northey’s answer was to raise money for research to fight cancer. Cutting-edge medical technology is constantly evolving in the battle against cancer, and money to fund research is essential. Brice Clark was Northey’s friend who passed away in October 2005 after a lengthy struggle with cancer. Not only was he a good friend, he was a great man with very special personal qualities and stepfather to Northey’s three children. Northey was very close to Clark and considered him a good friend. Northey has channeled his energy into putting on an endurance event fundraiser. In 2006, the Coolest 24 Hour Race Against Cancer made its successful debut. Mountain bike riders from solos to five-person teams in various age categories ride a very challenging 12-mile course in Cool for 24 straight hours, raising money for cancer. “Relying on my background in endurance events, I knew that I could put on an event that would be fun and challenging, and raise money for cancer research,” Northey said. Northey is a lifelong athlete, playing high school sports as a teen. After moving to the Auburn area in 1981, he started running and mountain bike riding and eventually got involved in endurance sports. He is a Western States 100 endurance run finisher, an entrant in the Canadian Iron Man championships, and was a member of a successful adventure racing team that qualified for the national championships. Northey is a frequent participant in local endurance events and knows the canyon trails like the back of his hand. Northey has teamed up with the Auburn Community Cancer Endowment Fund, a local non-profit that channels donations from numerous local events to the UC Davis Cancer Center for cancer research. The Coolest 24 MTB race has raised and donated $77,000 in the last two years, with 100 percent of the profit going to cancer research. “Every year the event gets bigger with some of the best endurance riders coming to the race, not only because it’s a challenging course and good event, but it’s for a good cause and most of the riders to some degree have been touched by cancer,” Northey said. This year, nearly 500 riders will test their skills in Cool. They will be riding their bicycles for 24 hours. In the back of each rider’s mind will surely be the thoughts and prayers of family members and friends who have lost their lives to cancer or survived this dreaded disease. The Coolest 24 was started by one man, his back against the wall, fighting back, putting on an event with the help of many volunteers and community groups, that is both fun, challenging and most of all is a fundraiser to fight cancer. The race takes place Saturday at noon as the riders hit the trail to raise money for cancer. Interested individuals who would like to donate money to cancer research can visit for more information.