Friday, April 19, 2013

Before My MS150 Ride

Normally, I post after an event, but I wanted to generate some excitement for this weekend, and perhaps some prayer as well for all those involved in the bike ride. I also have a few reflections since I have been riding my bike leading up to the event!

Before I begin: If you'd like to donate to the cause, go here and you can donate to my page or go to my team's page and you can find someone who may not have all of their funds raised!

A few years ago, I read this book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It's basically a story about stories, and it's an incredible, inspiring read for everyone, even nonreligious, as it depicts the hearts of people who have their wonderful stories because they want a better story. (That's what I believe it to be, anyway, but it's been a while, so hey, read it yourself!) In this book, Miller talks about a bike tour he did, and I came out of it with an inspiration to do my own bike tour. There was only one thing: I didn't have a bike. Ok, there were 2 things: I didn't even know how to ride a bike. I, being the bright and resourceful person I am, had an epiphany! "Why don't I ask someone at my church - which is kind of well known as a "hipster church" with tons and tons of cyclists - if I could borrow a bike?!" Genius, right?! So, I asked around, and who else but the lead pastor, Gideon, hands me this really sweet Bianchi with a smile and probably a few wishes of good luck and such. Apparently, this bike was the village bicycle (not to be confused with any misogynistic references as this isn't that kind of church). A few members had ridden it, and it was entrusted to me to take this bike and give it another story - my story.

This was 3 years and about 30 pounds ago. I did not know anything about cycling and I did not exercise that much prior to this learning experience. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty. I rode around my apartment complex for what seemed like forever a few times, only to find that after huffing and puffing and blowing everything down, I had exerted all of my energy in... 15 minutes. Pumping up the tires was trying for me then! Seriously. I thought to myself, "How in the HELL am I going to do a tour like this?" I kept trying and kept trying, figuring out this foreign machine, talking to people about touring, following around beautiful men in cycling gear around Whole Foods and asking them for their information so we could talk cycling/touring.

And then, one morning when I was helping a temporary roommate move out, she looked over to where her bike had been chained up and said, "Where's my bike?" To which I said, "I don't know... OMGWHEREISMINE?!?!??!" Someone had hit up the complex the night before and got 5 bikes in our little block. It was devastating for everyone, but I felt the most of it. The village bicycle: gone. My touring dreams: deeply bruised. My guilt over the whole situation: magnified to the nth degree. I apologized to Gideon and everyone I knew who had ever ridden the bike, and continued a silent self-hatred over the whole thing for a few years, laying my dream to the side.

Up until now, we see a girl, 3 years younger than today, who is really out of shape, feeling guilty for someone else's wrong-doing, and allowing her dreams to be tarnished by an act of theft. Three years go by and she has run 2 5k's, had a personal trainer for a year, enrolled in boxing lessons, hiked up Chimney Rock, NC, twice, became a gym rat and circuit training "queen," done a 60-day juice fast, gone mostly-vegan, and done a Bikram yoga challenge. Today, this girl is the strongest she has ever, ever been by engaging in a spectrum of activities and fueling her body with beautiful fruits and veggies, meanwhile overcoming a life long of physical illnesses and I-cannot-do-this syndrome. Above all, she still dreams of touring on a bicycle, starting in Seattle and ending in Savannah, and this weekend - TOMORROW - she takes a giant leap toward that dream with the MS150 ride from Houston to Austin.

When my friend, Rachel Rische, announced at church that they were getting a team together for the MS150 ride, I knew that I would be overcoming so many things: my fear (which, I'll be honest, I still have shreds of leading up to tomorrow and Sunday), my mind, and my guilt. Last Sunday, I went up to Gideon and told him about my guilt, my shame, and my need for resolution. "I haven't even thought about it since you told me about it!" he said, gave me a big hug, and wished me well. [Cue: Sigh of relief!] I guess I just needed him to say it.

So, I need you, my dear reader, to know that I've done my best to ride bikes leading up to this weekend. My friend, Lindsay, graciously lent me her bike for the ride. I biked a lot during SXSW. [Check off that New Year's resolution from 3 years ago!] I tried riding on stationary bikes at the gym to get a feel for prolonged saddle time that mostly resulted in what I perceive is a bruised coccyx. I joined a cycling group, thanks to my friend Tawny Villain (Coolest name in the Universe!), called the Bikin' Betties where a bunch of seriously awesome ladies ride bikes and my 8-year-old I-wish-I-lived-in-a-neighborhood-so-I-could-ride-bikes-with-my-friends-and-feel-cool self is the happiest she has ever been. For the future, I'm envisioning a Savannah Red cycling group with matching outfits. I've done the scout-a-route and Tuesday Night Ladies' rides with Mellow Johnny's and met some super seriously kick ass people, and some who I believe are kick ass deep down inside they are just afraid to show it. I've gotten way too many flat tires for my taste, but hey, I'm still learning. (Huge shout out to Lee and Chalo and the rest of the guys at East Side Pedal Pushers for always taking care of me!) I've learned new ways to get around the city that I am in love with! I've even ridden past places I tried to bike around those 3 years ago, seeing mental images of myself making the most effort I could muster, and sending the old me a lot of love as I ride by with a smile of gratitude and love for who she was and who I am now.

I'm looking forward to this weekend with so much excitement, joy, and love, especially after this crazy week we've had, and there is something I haven't mentioned yet. I know that this cycling journey has been mostly about just my own obstacles that I've overcome, but I'm riding for multiple sclerosis as well, particularly for a woman named Cynthia. The money we raise for the ride goes to research, advocacy, and to help people like her and so many others to overcome the challenges they face every single day. When I received the packet that said I was riding for someone, I teared up because it is clearly not solely my journey, and it hasn't been even up until now. I'm honored to be apart of this journey with her, for her, to take my friend's bike as far as I can go - hopefully, the whole way to Austin - and defeat a million demons along the way for both of us. I ask for your prayers of love, support, safety, hydration, and anything else you can think of.

No matter what, I'm biking across that finish line in Austin somehow. I hope to see you there!

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