We’ve officially begun preparations for #Pelotonia18 scheduling back-to-back cycling days every weekend we can. As anyone who’s stopped by before to read my entries, you’ll know all about Pelotonia and why I ride. This year Pelotonia has added several different route options in celebration of its 10th year — and $157 million raised to #endcancer. They’ve upped the ante on the longest ride, from 180 to 200 miles. We figured that since cancer remains a reality we can step up and accept the challenge.
I’ve been trying to embrace this challenge. We want to become more fit so that those 200 miles are even more enjoyable. So I don’t have to worry and fill with self-doubt (as I’ve posted about in the past.) Thanks, graduate school, for those ten pounds per annum.
But I don’t want fear to motivate me. And it’s so hard constantly falling back on the sadness of loss. Five years now we’ve been without Aunt Judy and Susan, and I still can’t type their names without crying. It will never make sense to me.
So I’ll pedal on.
And I’ve found new motivation this week. New inspiration. I am so moved by the amazing people in my life.
We have a new team-member this year. Don Demaria. Don’s father was diagnosed with cancer last year in the week leading up to Pelotonia. We added his name to our team banner. Though it wasn’t cancer that finally claimed his life, he didn’t make it a week. Gutting. Devastating.
Don just grinds on the bike and keeps going. He hasn’t been riding much at all lately but he’s back in full force, and he inspires me to push myself. I ride for his father.
Jonathan Amador. The brother of a great friend who also, I’m so fortunate to say, has become a terrific friend to me as well. Having never ridden on a bike, he signed on for a 12+ mile ride Friday evening to see how it felt. He loved it. So of course, the athlete that he is, with the fortitude that he has, joined us for 50 miles on Saturday morning.
It wasn’t easy for him — not that he should have expected it to be. As different activities may do, cycling challenges different muscle groups. It challenges your ability to ignore the pain of sitting on a saddle for hours and hours. It taxes your spirit when you think you’re cruising along just fine and another cyclist tears by you like you were standing still.
But he finished the full 50 miles on his second day ever of road cycling, and finished rather well. He committed, and saw himself to the end. That’s drive.
I found inspiration in his tenacity to pull myself out of bed this morning for another 27 miles. I didn’t want to. I was hoping somebody would offer an excuse — too tired, too sore, too early in the season. But my excuse didn’t come, so instead I rode inspired — by Jonathan’s willingness to embrace a challenge, to power through pain, and at the prospect of many more miles of friendship and fun cycling together as a team.
Dustin Nelson. He joined us for Pelotonia last year, signing up for the max 180 mile route basically sight unseen and with relatively little time on a bike. He crushed the ride, and he made high roller status, raising more than $5,000 alone. He immediately signed up for another go as soon as registration opened.
Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles over the winter. Twice, in fact. His response? I’ll do it on a hand-powered bike.
Friday night was his first time out, ever, on a hand bike. He didn’t make it as far as he had hoped, but he made it farther (and further) than I could ever dream possible if I were in his shoes. Dustin knows he has a lot of work ahead of him to make it 200 miles on his new (temporary) wheels, and he may have to change to a shorter route. But he’s undeterred to ride in Pelotonia and be a part of our train. His utter tenacity inspires me.
Doug Ulman and Jill Londino, and all of the Pelotonia team. Their willingness and enthusiasm to go out of their way to visit Athens and support our fundraiser last week meant the world. (Not to mention how wonderful it is to be with people who are seemingly always positive, welcoming, engaging, creative, and inspired.) I was embarrassed that the CEO would see such a small turnout. It didn’t matter to them, and their presence made the event special for all of our friends. Somehow, it made it more real.
We’re a small team, and we’re scrambling every which way we can to come up with different means to meet and exceed our fundraising commitments for Pelotonia. I always have dollar signs in my eyes when it comes to Pelotonia, thinking that I have finally discovered the thing to work for all of us, to knock it out of the park.
We didn’t set any attendance records at Southern Brewing the other night, and we didn’t raise nearly enough to meet any one individual’s commitment. But I think we inspired our community. Because of Doug and Jill. Their engagement with our friends and supporters brought our community even closer in support of our shared mission to end cancer. They helped people see how important this cause is for all of us. And why it means so much to our team.
Meet Doug Ulman and tell me you’re not inspired. I dare you.
Attend Pelotonia in August — as a rider, volunteer, or simply as a spectator, and tell me you’re not inspired. I dare you.
I rode 90 miles this weekend to celebrate the tireless dedication of the entire Pelotonia team — riders, volunteers, administrators, donors, sponsors. You inspire me to ride harder, pedal longer, and to go the literal and figurative extra mile as we seek an end to all cancers. No one is immune to it. The specter of cancer as a reality for each of us is all too real.
I am inspired to change that.
Some team members will contribute periodically throughout the season as we ramp up to Pelotonia weekend in August.