Imagine you’ve got the keys to a new car for an entire weekend, complete with unlimited gas, good friends and perfect weather…the only stipulation to use said car and amenites is this: you must be enthusiastic and open to new experiences.
Sounds perfect, right? Well, replace the car with a bike and gas with food, and THAT was my weekend. Bike MS’s Ride Virginia took place June 2-3, and I was a part of it. We began Saturday morning in Richmond, Va., at 7:30 am.
For a video and short story on the ride’s start, check out CBS-6’s coverage.
To give you a little background on how the ride works with regard to teams…you can ride solo or on a team. Being on a team doesn’t guarantee you anything more, or any different treatment necessarily. It’s just a way of joining a group of people together and organizing training rides, apparel, support, etc. When I ride the Louisiana Ride, I ride on Team Lauren Rocks (which I can claim to be co-founder of, haha). I love the camaraderie and networking associated with teams, so even though I didn’t know which to join for this ride, I knew I wanted to be on one. After contacting the Central Virginia MS Chapter, I was put in touch with Capital Ale House team, and I joined them in their efforts! Seeing as I didn’t know anyone doing the ride, it was a great way to put me in touch with some other riders and have some aspect of commonality with these folks.
I started the ride and settled about 15 miles in with a group of about 4 other team members: Owen, Jonathan, Kellen and Rob. (I was the lone girl, hence the estrogen comment). Little did I know how close I’d get to these guys! Around 20 miles in, Owen rode next to me and reminded me (in a very polite way) that we still had 55 to go…perhaps I should take in some scenery and save some leg. I thought, “Ok, he’s done this more, and knows what he’s talking about…but I really feel good, and I should warn them that endurance is my strong point..we shall see.” When we hopped back on after the lunch stop, my legs continued pushing it, and they chuckled, “WHAT did Christine eat for lunch?!” It was really neat how we all continued to keep each other going, and we finished the 75 miles in just above 4 hours, making for a 17.8 mph pace the whole way. This was the fastest any of us had done a 75 miler.
Day 2 came and went similarly (our pace went to around a 16.7) with lots of head wind and uphills. But, rather than detail the ride itself, hill by hill and road by road, I’d rather just hit on some overall observations:
-The Bike MS events are incredible on so many levels, but one of the main highlights for me is the atmosphere of the riders. In sharp contrast to running, you don’t have a bunch of nervous people clinging to their watches, hoping for some time that they must get, else they will be disappointed. Of course there are cyclists with pace goals and times they’d like to hit (myself included), but overall I find it’s not about an individual PR. It’s about celebrating the fact that we raised hundreds and thousands of dollars for a non profit. People aren’t silent at the start, playing mind games with themselves, rather, they’re conversing and eager to make a statement out on the road to all passerby. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a runner as well and will be doing exactly what I described in the near future, but THIS event is something just so very different, something all physical fitness enthusiasts need to experience. It takes the idea of selfless to a new level.
-Your mind can overcome SO much more than the body lets it think. The farthest I’d ever ridden was 75 in one day (Oct 2009), and this year in training the farthest I got was 50; one weekend I did a 45/35. One mile into day 2 of the ride, I was convinced I was dying as my quads were making me well aware of their presence. Ok, I thought, “I’ve got this, really, no big deal. As long as I keep having fun, there’s no reason to stop. I’ve got a support group, food stops, and endurance. Let’s. Do. This.” I completed day 2 at a faster pace than I’d trained at, managed to stay with the group of guys I met the day prior, AND I enjoyed the whole way. The wind was awful, and hills hurt, but as long as you are doing something for the right reason, and you don’t doubt your abilities, you CAN do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. ALL, not SOME.
My right reason was Lauren Rolston (my friend with Multiple Sclerosis), and my call to serve others. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
With running, I’d gotten comfortable, and I knew what it was like to exhaust myself. So my mind kept telling me I was tired. With cycling, because I’d never done it to this level, my mind didn’t think it knew its limitations. And it didn’t. Don’t get so comfortable in what you are doing that you forget you can do more, and you can push harder. Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”
–After staring at the back of cyclists for 10 hours, you really start to wonder how YOUR butt looks on the seat of a bike.
I think I can officially call myself a cyclist now, hooo-rah! THANK YOU again to everyone for the support, it means more than you know. 150 miles, two days, finished!
If this is any hint as to how my summer will go, I need to brace myself. I’ve been in a different city every night – tomorrow, I move into Duke! Throw it at me, world.
“She is…whatever she wants to be.” -Ben Rector