Saturday, April 5th: This morning we had our send off at Race Pace Bicycles in Baltimore on Key Highway. About a 125 family and friends gathered to see us off. It was a rather chilly morning and I will admit I was a bit concerned about being able to stay warm. As we rode our bikes as group down to Race Pace from the Ulman Cancer Fund office, I was really overcome with emotion as I thought about what I was about to embark on. I was about to be a part of something that was huge. 24 riders, 6 of us who are cancer survivors, several who had lost a spouse or child to cancer. 12 support staff whose job will be making sure we don’t get lost, hungry or dehydrated and cheering us on. Everyone on going on the trip has been impacted by cancer. We are all making a difference in the fight against cancer.
Awaiting me at Race Pace were John, Jack, Brady, Kate and Maggie, my mother and my to my surprise and delight were my aunt and uncle, Janice and Buddy. It was great to have a small cheering section since I was beginning to have doubts as to whether I would be able to ride all the way to Key West! Each morning before we ride, all the riders participate in a “dedication circle” where we dedicate our ride that day to someone. While standing in the circle we hold hands. Left hand up, right hand down. The thought that you are receiving support from the person on your left and giving support to the person on the right. Our family and friends got to witness the emotion this evokes in all of the riders. At the conclusion, all 24 riders rode off and completed the first mile together.
I was in leg 4 this morning with 4 other amazing riders: Chris Zahlis, Mark Ricks, Kim Rosborough, and Kiersten Henry. Chris and Kiersten were on last year’s ride so it was great to have someone with a little experience guiding the way. We drove a few hours to Walkerton, Va. to start our leg. At 11:30 we headed out on our bikes. Boy…those first few miles were a bit tough given that I hadn’t been on my bike for 4 weeks due to my fall and 4 stitches in my knee. I felt that I needed to rebuild my self confidence and trust that my team was going to help me get to the end. I knew that my teammates would help me get to the end. What I didn’t expect was how I was going to connect with each of these teammates. We shared stories about how we connected with UCF. I found it was these stories that distracted me from the soreness and pain I was feeling with every pedal.
We crossed several bridges along the way. The Mattaponi River bridge was one that we crossed. We stopped at the top to take in the view. Around every 20 miles we take a break. Refuel and rehydrate and then we are back on the road.
One thing that I really noticed on today’s ride was my sense of smell seemed to be heightened. I was smelling things that took me back to my childhood. It is amazing how a simple trip through the Virginia countryside can trigger such vivid memories that were once forgotten. Perhaps it was because I felt like a kid again. A bit carefree, out for an adventure, taking in the sights. At one point, my teammate Chris Zahlis told me a story about a older man that he met that told him to look up every now and then. If you think about it we are always so focused on what is directly in front of us that we forget about what might be above us. That story resonated with me. I often get so caught up with what is in front of me that I’m really not taking in everything around me. Perhaps this bike ride is teaching to slow down. Life isn’t a race. Stop every once and awhile and take in the view. A view in front of, in back of , to your side, and above. You just might see something incredible.
**Disclaimer: This was written after spending many hours on a bike covering 47 miles. Pure exhaustion!