Thanks to all of my six loyal readers who donated, the Ride for Research was a great success. The day was both beautiful and moving. The weather was perfect and the route was scenic, rolling past Walden Pond and on small country lanes through small villages and horse pastures. I was particularly moved by the volunteers and riders I met.
After slipping out of our hotel room, leaving Mama and 3B slumbering behind, I went down to the car, rousted a slumbering Barky, let him out, gave him breakfast and walked him on the shore of the reservoir. The water was mirror smooth and we watched families of geese walk across from the preserve and slip into the glassy water, which was far more interesting to me than to Barky.
The temperature was perfect for Barky and a bike ride, and when I put the mutt back in the car to await Mama and 3B, he went right back to sleep. I pulled on my bike clothes, grabbed a muffin from the lobby, retrieved my bike from the bellman and rolled less than a mile down the road to the start of the ride.
I was feeling ready for the ride, but not sure if I was ready for the emotions of the ride, and I was hit with that as I got my rider number. The woman who checked me in had lost her husband to a brain tumor when he was 49 and her three children, who were all teenagers when their father died, were riders. It was such a relief to know that I was among people who understand what I’ve been through–and who have triumphed over the tragedy that might have been.
A woman at the refreshments table was a brain tumor survivor, having had her final surgery six years ago. She and I talked about the importance of having hope and how events like this can provide hope to patients, who can see that they have the support of others and that research continues. It reminded me again of the importance of hope, of focusing on the potential rather than the peril.
Those of us riding the 50-mile course–there were 25 and 15 mile options–rolled out at 8 a.m. to the cheers of the volunteers, survivors and other riders and into a perfect morning for a bike ride. Before we’d even started, I had already taken off my vest and arm warmers–yes, bikers are geeky like that.
On the course, there was a large contingent of users wearing bunny ears and I asked one of them what the ears signified. She told me that her mother’s name had been Bunny and that there were approximately 30 family members on her team, all riding in memory of Bunny. Then she warned me that the next hill was the killer of the course and as the group of riders spread out, we lost touch with each other.
The ride rolled by more easily than I had thought it would. It helped that it was a gently rolling course, so the hills weren’t too steep and there were occasional downhill sections that I could coast through. I was estimating that I’d ride at about 16 mph, meaning that it would take a little over three hours to finish the ride, but I ended up averaging almost 18 mph for the whole course, finishing in under three hours. The course made riding easier, as did having company around rather than riding solo to work as I usually do when training…hm, maybe something about riding toward a rest stop rather than work had something to do with it too. Nah, couldn’t be, right?
Later, close to the finish line, I came up behind a man riding with his son, who was about six years old, in a seat on the back of his bike. I wondered about them as I did so many others on the ride–who were they were riding for? And I thought of how I hoped that 3B would one day participate in rides like this with me. I listened to the father and son chat about the ride and the countryside we were passing through and then I noticed a small note on the back of the boy’s seat: “I Ride 4 Mom.”
That taught me how tough it was to ride with tears in my eyes.
Overall, however, the day reinvigorated my hope for progress against brain tumors. Almost 1,000 people participated in the event, which raised more than $500,000 to support brain tumor research and services for brain tumor patients and their families. Thanks again to all of you who supported my ride. If you think you missed your chance to help out, it’s not too late. You can still make a donation–but hurry before the deadline arrives.
Not for nothing, it was fun to read, as I was riding, about Brother #2 who was riding at the same time I was in a charity ride near L.A. Sister #1 was also in my thoughts as she completed a triathlon–and now that she’s on Twitter (resistance is futile) I’ll be able to follow along on her next one. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to rise to either of their levels, but it was fun for a day to ride along with them virtually, and to hear from Sister #2, even if she didn’t show up to push me up those hills.