Reason to Ride

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Ten miles into last weekend’s fifty-mile Reason to Ride, the pace began to pick up. As the other riders loosened up and found their legs on the bike, I began to wonder if I would be able to survive the pace. I was already at the back of the group and hurting. I have long held onto a belief that by keeping myself in good overall shape, I should be able to accomplish whatever psychical task I push my body into. That belief  had once again led to suffering.

Last year I rode the Reason to Ride the day after riding the hundred mile New England Parkinson’s Ride. Despite the effort from the previous day, my legs had felt strong and I quickly found a flow on the bike. In the end the ride was comfortable enough for me to take it easy, talk with friends, and enjoy the fantastic scenery of Massachusetts’ north shore. This year, however, I found talking difficult as my lungs gasped for air and I was afraid to waste too much valuable energy looking around.

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The difference between last year and this year was that I rode my bike a lot last year. Where last year found me riding my bike four times a week, this year I have barely ridden my bike four times total. Two weeks prior to Reason to Ride was the last time on my bike. It was a humbling twenty five mile ride that should have clued me into how much I was over-estimating myself. During the Reason to Ride, my lack of commitment to the bike showed: I could psychically feel the lack of training and doubt slowly crept into my mind.

Further highlighting my lack of devotion to training were my two teammates who had taken this year’s ride more seriously than me. Only a month before Reason to Ride, Ryan had completed the 192-mile,  two-day Pan Mass Challenge. After recently training for and enduring such a long ride (and this year in such adverse conditions), the fifty miles was nothing more than an excuse for Ryan to stretch his legs. Last year, Matt had found himself in a predicament similar to mine this year–with a long bike ride in front of him and not much training leading up to it. While Matt didn’t have the type of mileage in his legs that Ryan did this year, he had made sure to get some much needed time on the bike in leading up to the ride.

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Around mile fifteen, I found my rhythm and the miles began to tick away. While I was never truly in jeopardy of not finishing the ride, I was surprised by how difficult it turned out to be. Toward the end of the ride, my shoulders ached, my hands were fatigued, my legs felt sluggish, and the last place I wanted to be was on my bike seat: a) because I was ready to be done, and b) because it was hard to believe that I ever found the seat on my bike comfortable.

In the end it seems trivial to complain about such fleeting aches and pains as the Reason to Ride is in support of brain cancer care and the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a cause that has recently affected someone very close to me. I imagine the people affected by this terrible disease would happily trade MRIs, chemo, doctors visits, etc. for tired legs and a sore rear end.

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Our team raised over $11,000 for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (the entire event brought in more than $51,000!), led by team captain Matt who raised over $5,000. It was an incredible day and I am thankful that I am able to help out, even if it is only in small way. This year I once again am amazed by the strength, commitment, resourcefulness, and giving from the people who attend, ride in, support, and benefit from this event.

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