Pedal the Cause…the ride of my life.
There are times in your life when you push your limits to see how far you can challenge yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Riding 100 miles through the hills of San Diego was one of these times.
Let me start by saying I am not a cyclist. I have been on a bike a total of 10 times in the last 10 years before signing up for this cycling event. However, I do love a good challenge, especially when it is attached to a great cause- Pedal the Cause to be exact. Pedal the Cause-San Diego was formed in 2013 to help raise money for cancer research. And since so many of us have been touched by cancer in some form or another, myself included, I knew I needed participate in this amazing event.
Yet, who knew after five months of training, over 2000 miles rode, dozens of early morning training rides, endless amounts of sugary bars and goos, OJ-gelatin-C02 drinks, milk shakes, salty potatoes and fruit, aspirin and baking soda would the final ride challenge me so much.
It never fails that the night before any run, ride or challenge I have a more difficult time falling asleep. I start worrying about sleeping through the start, getting enough sleep, forgetting something, putting enough air in my tires, etc., etc. So annoying. Seriously, the night I need a good night sleep the most, I am wired up like a 100 foot Christmas tree. So I got a massage, took an Epsom salt bath and drank a big glass of salty-milk with honey (it helps, trust me) and off to bed I went…only to wake up at 5:30 AM, on a Saturday morning, to get ready for the longest bike ride of my life.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I am up! Its 5:30 AM and it is DARK and MISTY outside. I start questioning my crazy desire of riding to the Pedal the Cause start line, 10 miles from my home, up Torrey Pines Hill (a BIG hill), so that I can complete a total of 100 miles for the day. The Pedal the Cause long course is only 90 miles, but since I am slightly OCD, I felt the compulsion to make it 100. I start getting dressed—bike shorts, bike shirt, socks, cycling shoes, gloves, arm warmers, glasses, helmet and most importantly…lip stick. As my new cycling friend Marcy would say, “You never know when the cameras are around.” I eat my favorite pre-workout meal of banana-sweet potato pancakes. And finally, I pack my shirt full of organic bars, goo’s, aspirin, phone, money and ID.
It’s now 6:45 AM, I walk outside, and the night is starting to become light. I make the decision… I’m going to ride to the start line. At this point, my legs are fresh and my adrenaline is kicking, so the push up Torrey Pines Hill and my first 10 miles does not even faze me and I make it to the start line in 35 minutes flat.
I arrive at the Pedal the Cause event around 7:20 AM, located at UCSD, along with 400 other riders. It’s actually very inspiring to see so many people come out and support such a worthy cause. Each rider sported a Pedal the Cause jersey or a jersey that represented his or her team. I was on the team “Bill’s Angels.” My client Bill Koman is the founder of the Pedal the Cause event and “Bill’s Angels” is his wife, Amy Koman’s team. My friend Ashley Wagner and co-rider was also on the team…I had somehow talked her into this event five months ago. Like me, she had no idea what she was getting herself into.
Before the start, we were inspired by a few great speeches, some sharing their struggles, fights and wins against cancer while others shared about those we had lost and were riding for in their honor… The speeches definitely made me think about all the people who have been touched by cancer. Riding 100 miles is BIG, but riding to a support a CAUSE much bigger than me, is what this day was all about.
It was 7:45 AM and we are off. The weather was cool, foggy, and misty… this was almost perfect riding conditions. It was exciting to be part of a huge swarm of cyclists. All the riders biked East from UCSD in La Jolla, up Miramar road to Scripps Poway Parkway in Poway. Initially the route was flat and easy, the first 15 miles seemed to fly by without even a blink of an eye. The morning fog was helpful by disguising the first few hills. It’s amazing if you can’t really see the hill, it doesn’t seem as daunting…before we knew it the first big hill was behind us.
The next 10 miles were quick and flat. Ashley and I managed to draft off a few people who were hauling booty, so at mile 30 we were feeling pretty darn good. However, this is when the real fun started. It was now 9:30 AM and we started a slow and winding climb that never seemed to end. To top it off there was a nice strong head wind hitting us in the face that made the climb even more challenging. All I could do was shift into my low gears and spin my pedals for miles and miles…fifteen to be exact. Ouch.
Finally, after almost an hour and half we made it to the Santa Ysabel rest stop, located about 7 miles from Julian. (UN) Fortunately for us we were not taking the 7 mile route to Julian, we had committed to the 40 mile LONG route. Yay! The good news was our amazing friends Eric, Dave and Suzanne were at the rest stop waiting with special food and drink, massages, cowbells, laughter and hugs. While my friend Dave gave my legs a quick rub down, Suzanne brought me my special meal of salty sweet potatoes, cooked fruit, salt cheese, orange juice, more salt and gelatin (Yes, I have great friends). It may not sound great to you, but the starch, sugar, protein and salt was just what my body needed to pound out another 40 miles…
It’s now around 11:15 AM and Ashley and I have our final 40 miles to go. I’d like to say the worst was behind us and the rest of the ride was a breeze BUT that would be incredibly boring to read AND would be a complete lie. At least for the next 10 miles, there were no long climbs just lots of rolling hills. Unfortunately, there were more winds, so even on the down hills when we should be hitting speeds of 25-30 mph, we were hitting a very not so speedy 13-15 mph. There were times, I kept thinking, “Are we even moving?” I’m going to guess it was around noon, when we hit the next rest stop. My brain had stopped functioning around mile 70, so the rest of this story may be a little foggy. At this point, my back and neck were aching, my butt was unhappy, my bike shorts and shirt were covered in salt and sweat and my legs were cursing me. “Only 30 more miles,” Ashley tells me with a smile. “Grr, Augh, F*$#@!” was my response.
The remaining 30 miles were nothing but mind over matter. I have never ridden more than 75 miles in my life, so the additional 25 miles, plus lots of hills and winds challenged not only my body but my mind as well. Luckily, our dear friends Eric and Dave had driven in front us, and were stopping on the side of the rode about every 15 miles to cheer us on. They were our own personal SAG (support and gear) crew. Eric and Dave were screaming, cheering and cow belling for us to keep moving. You have no idea how much this helped…a single cheer, a ringing cow bell, a friendly face literally kept me from jumping off my bike and throwing it into a moving car.
After more hill climbs, heat, sun, nats, and more wind we arrived at our final SAG station…only 8 more miles from the finish…unfortunately the last miles were 8 uphill miles. After riding 92 miles, 6.5 hours on the bike, wind, bugs, heat and hills and now an 8-mile hill? “F*#@*!” At this point, I must apologize, as the words coming out of my mouth were less than pleasant, however, a little harmless profanity can go a long way when you need an extra push. On another note, I will say all the SAG stations were amazing, great food, ice, fruit, bike maintenance, water, great volunteers, cheerleaders, first aid, basically whatever you needed. The only thing they were lacking were a very needed new pair of legs. Mine were finished 15 miles ago.
Finally, Ashley and I were ready to go. I clipped in my right foot, and then tried for myleft…but missed. My legs felt like two wet noodles attached to my body and as soon as I tried to stand, I just fell over…BAMM, on the cement I fell, bike and all. “F$#@*!” Apparently, I didn’t think the last climb was challenging enough and I needed to bleed a bit before finishing. Take 2. I get on the bike and off we go. Now, I am not going to share the complete conversation Ashley and I had for the next 45 minutes climbing for 8 miles, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this: Me: “F#@*$ Hill!” Ashley: “HAHAHA.”
It was now 3 PM, and we had made it to Julian! Finally! Yay! Applause! I have never been so happy to get off my F#!$* bike. Just so you know the profanity stopped here. The Pedal the Cause camp provided us with cheers, massages, yoga, hot showers and an amazing gourmet meal. At this time, I loved everyone. It’s amazing what a hot shower, clean clothes, Alka-Seltzer and fresh lipstick will do for you.
1. If you train hard enough you can become good at anything. I was not a cyclist five months ago. Today…with time, effort and commitment I rode 100 miles in one of the most challenging courses in SoCal.
2. Never give up! Your mind and body are stronger than you think. A 100-mile bike ride challenges your heart, head and soul. Yet, it doesn’t even compare to someone fighting cancer… Do not give up, do not stop fighting, do whatever you can to win the fight!
3. Nothing compares to the support of your friends and family. Whether the support came from donations, cowbell ringing, flowers, texts, calls, delivering food, hugs and cheers…your support meant everything!
4. Support a CAUSE, organization, group or event that is bigger than you are.
5. The greatest challenges in life are the ones that are the most rewarding. If you never challenge yourself, you’ll never get the feeling of a HUGE accomplishment. This is a feeling that cannot be purchased, borrowed, or stolen …it can only be earned.
6. Make sure you are healthy before taking on any fitness challenge. Health will not be established by biking 100 miles, health needs to be established prior to biking 100 miles.
7. Eat supportively, rest and recover while training. This is not a time to start dieting or partying all night long.
8. And finally, a good lipstick is essential for a successful bike ride.
The last 5 months have been nothing short of amazing. Did I whine sometimes about getting up at 6 AM to go out on a five-hour bike ride in the heat and humidity? Yes. Did I complain that my butt hurt and my shorts were riding up for the 100th time? Yes. Did I take dozens of Epsom salt baths, drink gallons of OJ -Co2 water, and ride almost every hill in San Diego County? Yes. Did I have a ton of fun, meet some amazing people and raise almost $9,500 dollars for cancer research…H*#L Yes! Nothing in life worth doing is easy. Whether it’s getting healthy, fighting cancer, running a race or changing your job or life…it you really want to do it, YOU can do it! Remember to never give up! Get support from your family and friends! And always, always wear a good lipstick!
Special Thanks to the following people:
Suzanne W, Heidi B, Annie G, Ross R, Robert S, Rob and Barb M, Joe and Carol K, Jessica A, Christian L, Bob S, Bill and Amy K, Kimberly J, Steve P, Jamie H, Ashley H, Pat H, Tammy S, Mom and Dad, Greg M, Carolyn L, Forest W, Bo, Kris B, Kara F, Kelly R, Torre M, Lisa G, Harry and Tiff F, Shari and Herb L, Kent, Jean and David R, Debbie P, Barb W, Angela P, Sean and Heidi D, Sharon J, Leland and Debbie S, Wendy W, Randy W, Adria and Ira, Doreen and Gary C, Natalie L, Judy and Duffy K, Chris R, Joann T, Mindey M, Charlene and Jim H, Amy and Thomas Pope, Yin and Jean D, Michelle M, Mary Ann B, Nikki Moore, Jeff L, Cornelia B, Eric N, Dave D and Mac W.
I love you all!