In past years I cannot say that the reasons for riding the century distance (100 miles) at the Livestrong Challenge extended much past pushing myself a little while supporting what felt like a good cause. Cancer hadn't touched me or my family but I knew I could do a little something to help support and raise awareness for those whose it had. All I had to do was ride my bike, easy enough. December 28, 2010 that changed. That is the day I joined the cancer club. I hadn't been seeking admission, yet I was granted a lifetime membership.
Shortly after that diagnosis day I knew one thing, I needed to ride the Livestrong Challenge this year. I needed to be there to feel the energy and love and camaraderie that is always so present. The goal was to ride the 100 mile route, a route I had ridden and completed on two previous occasions. I just needed two things to happen, one which was in my control, regain as much fitness as possible post-chemotherapy and the other that I could not control, a scheduled date for surgery that was after the event.
By a stroke of luck, surgery was scheduled for four days after the ride, fate was telling me I was meant to be there and meant to participate this year. I worked hard on the fitness, I ran, I rode, I ate right. Unfortunately I was not able to get back to peak condition yet. I knew my rides were not long enough, my hill work was lacking and as it turned out, the stamina I had been rebuilding was not to a level to carry me through where I had come up short in training.
On the road I decided the 70 mile route would be more appropriate. However, to cover that distance I was going to need to rely on something bigger than myself, the kindness of others. In the days leading up to the event I was sharing some thoughts via Twitter and a simple #LSCPhilly connected me with two guys that ended up being my greatest assets and allies on the road. They pulled me when I couldn't hold the pace, they offered a hand on the back when the climbs got tough, when I fell back they waited and they let me share my story. I kick myself for not asking more about what brought them to this event, but I am eternally grateful that they were there when I needed them and there for all affected by cancer. I hope in future years we can ride together again and I can return the favor and inspire them the same way they inspired me.
In the end my ride day tally was 55 miles. I didn't make the 100 or the 70 but I rode, I rode on a day that eight months prior I didn't know for sure would exist for me. I shed a tear for a minute, frustrated with coming up short to the bar I had raised for myself, but then I wiped my eyes and gave thanks. Thanks to the family and friends that made the trip to be with me and participated in the event, thanks to those that continue to support me on this journey and thanks to those that I met on the road that kept me turning the pedals over.
I laughed, I cried, I rode my bike. I was inspired.