Surviving cancer gives many people a new passion for life, but not many people would use it as an impetus to compete in a grueling, 750-mile bicycle race through the hills of France. 

But that’s exactly what Marc Jarkow of the Villages, Fla., decided to do this past spring.

The race, started in 1891, is generally regarded as one of the toughest amateur races in the world, and that’s exactly the type of challenge Marc was looking for after his battle with thyroid cancer. 

He talked to Growing Bolder about the exhausting race, which included a 50-mile wrong turn, and what it taught him about himself along the way.