Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ride Recap: BikeMS Pedal to the Point

This weekend was an experience and a half.

While I was on my bike on the way out to Sandusky, trying to find a comfortable way to sit on my bike that wasn't putting too much pressure on my sore butt, but also wasn't causing my shoulders to tighten up (not an easy feat), trying to keep myself from overheating and from chafing and from getting grumpy with my teammates, I realized something. The battle I was fighting through mentally and physically was representative of what people living with MS fight through every day.

That thought was completely humbling for me.

It suddenly dawned on me why we were riding 150 miles and not just running a 5k. It wasn't just to raise money for a great cause, or even to raise awareness by making people driving by wonder why there were 2,500+ bikers on the road. It's also meant to raise our own awareness. Not only did I raise money for those living with MS, but I basically fought the battle that they fight every day.

I am so amazed at what those people living with MS are capable of and the drive that they approach each and every day with; the drive to push on through.

Like I said, it was humbling.

We set off at about 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, without really knowing what to expect along the route. That was the toughest part about the ride out - apparently we missed the little maps they were giving away that said how far away each rest stop was. Between my garmin, Emily's speedometer and the signs along the way that said things like "Mile 26: if this were a marathon, you'd be finished!" (none of which told us the same mileage) we had an idea of how far along we were, but were never really sure. So, not being able to have definitive checkpoints - make it 4 more miles, that's where the next rest stop is - was pretty difficult.

I think we were all feeling good up until lunch. By the time we got to that stop, we were all famished. So the refuel was a much needed break and a chance to get out of my sweaty bike shoes. After lunch it got HOT. I couldn't put enough sunscreen on. Regardless, it didn't rain on us, contrary to what the weatherman was predicting. I was totally okay with that.

We made it to Sandusky by about 4pm, after being on the road for about 7.5 hours (with gratuitous stops, our ride time was closer to 6 hours). Ate at the high school, hopped the bus to our hotel, bought some beer from Walmart (where we almost couldn't get it because I had left my ID in the hotel room and they wanted to check ALL of our IDs), showered, ate more, watched TV and passed out at 9 p.m.

Sunday was much cooler and cloudier, which I was totally enjoying because my skin wasn't about to take another hot sunny day on the road. We knew we were going to get some rain, but had no idea that it was planning to stick around all day - so we were completely unprepared for it. Luckily we managed to make it through about 30 miles before we caught the brunt of the storm, but it hit us full force when we were about 10 miles from the lunch rest stop. Not only were we hungry, but Emily was muscling through some serious knee pain and we were getting buckets of water dumped on us while on a moderately busy highway in Oberlin.

We got to the lunch stop and Emily had already made the decision to take the bus to the finish - her knee just wasn't going to hold up. She couldn't even clip into her pedals at that point because it hurt too much to put pressure on the pedal. Brandon and I struggled with the decision for a long time; do we muscle through it? Or do we let go of our ego, and avoid a potentially miserable, wet and unsafe last 35 miles and call it a success anyway? We chose the latter.

I'm just not that confident in my riding to ride through those storms that we got yesterday. We weren't prepared to be totally drenched for the next 3 hours.

Even though the decision put me through a bit of emotional turmoil, I am so proud of what we did this weekend. I did not quit, I still accomplished the goal I set out to achieve - raising money and (more importantly) awareness for MS. I am so proud that I was able to go as far and as long as I did and was able to let go of my ego when I thought my well-being might be in jeopardy.

I learned a lot about myself this weekend, and I am truly humbled by my experience. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, and today, I am thankful that I have been given another chance to wake up and breathe, be happy, be healthy and be right here.


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