I am back and excited. So many things have happened over the past few month, the main being COMPLETING the AIDS Ride for Life. I have posted here before about my previous ride, a year ago, my accident and healing and now I am VERY proud to say that I got on my bike and completed the 100 miles (160 km) ride.
I am constantly asked why? why is it so important to me to do it, and it is not an easy answer. My reasons for this journey are that last time, exactly a year ago, I got on my bike after raising $1,000 for STAP and meant to do this great ride, for a great cause but at mile 40 flew off my bike and that changed my life. I wanted to complete it. To feel that here I am a year later, and got to the finish line. 6 month I was not myself. Surgery, broken hand/jaw/teeth, pain and discomfort. Stress was a huge factor during this whole year, not working seriously for 6 month, feeling my life was re-directed to a different path and then deciding that this new path will take me further and that this shift, and change, are good. It took me a long time to build my confidence on and off the bike. I got on the bike pretty soon after the fall and found that everything is closer and more fragile. The first time I went down a steep hill I literally heard my jaw breaking and got very nervous. I thought I would never go fast again. Going uphill, after 6 month of slow recuperation was just as hard. Every leaf that flies in front of my, made me lose a beat. But as time progressed, and miles accumulated, so did my comfort on the bike. I do love biking.
I biked the first 15 miles of the AIDS Ride, to remember the feeling, I biked the last 40 miles (rt. 89) to remember what is ahead. Biked with friends 30 and 40 milers and even got a wonderful 50 miler in for another great cause.
It is not a journey I took alone. The support and love I have received from family and friends, near and far, has overwhelmed me. I am so blessed to have so many loving, caring, funny people in my life that made this all possible.
When I signed up for this year AIDS Ride, I knew I had to raise the minimum $300 but had no clue that the love and support of my FB family and community would within days get me close to $1,000 in donations. All writing how they are proud of me and rooting for me. I mean, with that kind of love, how could I NOT get back out there?!
But life has a humor of its own. And whoever is running my show, has a real wicked sense of humor.
The 16th AIDS Ride for Life took place on September 13th, 2014 around the Cayuga Lake. Up until the 13th, the weather had been beautiful. In fact, I rode the week before 40 miles on the most-perfect, sunny day. I woke up at 5:00am on the Saturday of the ride to 40F (5C) and cloudy skies. It was cold. I do not have real bikers gear as I refrain from biking in rain…. not the adventurous type I guess. I put on my sports jacket, the AIDS Ride t-shirt above, the biking pants and leg warmers. Last minute I remembered my ear warmers. At 6am we gathered at Stewart Park and by 7 we were ready to start. the first 35-40 miles are mostly hills and I was mentally ready. At 7 we left the park, and at 7:10 the rain started. At first drizzle, then a real Ithaca rain- the strong, never-ending, big drops rain that followed us for about 7 hours. It was miserable! 7 hours of biking in freezing winds, never stopping rain, wet shoes, wet clothes, wet roads, trucks splashing and hills. Slow climbs but also slow descends because of the rain. At mile 17 we reached King Ferry Winery for our first stop. I could not stop. I was cold and needed to keep on going. Just before mile 35 my back leg muscle tightened up from the cold weather and It stayed that way, all the way! it was too cold to loosen up.
The ride took me 8 hours with all the stops. 7 hours in rain, cold winds and more rain. The last hour, the rain stopped and the sun even came out. I had planned to stop where I flew off last year and take a moment to say that I’m good, to connect to myself and feel blessed. But the weather was so horrible that I just flew by, this time on my bike, and did not really feel my heart beating, loosing a breath or anything. That is a good thing, I think. The last 50 miles were really just mental. Staying on the bike, not giving up to my rational side saying “this is insane! you will be sick” but just staying focused on why I am doing this. Remembering it is the end of one of the most intense journeys I have been on and this is needed to feel I can do anything. I saw cars drive by with bikes on the back and felt total respect for those who stopped and decided it is too much. But I kept on going. 15 miles before the end, my family drove by and cheered me and that totally shifted my mind-set from feeling miserable and sorry for myself to proud and excited to finish. And Finish I Did!
I passed the finish line in sun. I was still soaked and very cold, my kids gave me a towel and warm fleece to change into. I went home before the evening ceremony and dinner to get a very long hot shower and feel my toes again.
I did it. In rain and wind. I am proud to say that I did it!
At the dinner, I saw Jim Orcutt, the dentist who was biking behind me last year, and whom I will always be grateful for. Jim is 70 and has done the AIDS Ride for many years now. He completed the whole 100 miles this year as well, and I got to go up to him and got a big hug at the end of the ride and thanked him again for being there, back then, and afterwards when I needed advise and had questions.
What I take with me from this year is that life is so much more than what we think and plan for, and that we need to be flexible and willing to change out paths. I think that I am a different person today that I would have been, and on so many levels, in a different place.
I feel truly blessed and grateful for the people in my life and the people I have met because of this. I say again that this is my journey but not one I have been on alone.
I feel that although I still have medical things to do, this is now a part of my past that I have completed. I still love biking and feel honored to be part of this years ride and to continue supporting STAP for their wonderful work and dedication.
I have now started a new journey, my culinary journey, that I am excited to share here, and my first post will be posted very soon.
Thank you all, be blessed and remember – flexibility and humor are the most important qualities we can embrace as humans.
As always, I welcome your remarks, thoughts and sharing.
**** And YES! I did get very sick with fever, a bad cold and sore throat. I’m just now getting over it, a week after…. But it was totally worth it and in support of people who are really sick, and to educate and prevent others from getting sick……!