The end of a long road
Yesterday we pulled into Madison and completed this years Act ride. It was a beautiful route, very hilly but just gorgeous. It's amazing just how beautiful Wisconsin is when you are riding out there on your bike. I think my favorite sound was the wind whipping through the corn, it's awesome (especially if I think I created the wind and I raced by).
The ride feels like a family reunion in a way, there are people you only see this one time a year, but you have this special bond that you would wrap your arms around them in a hug if you saw them anywhere, but you just don't see each other that often. There are also those people you see a lot and this just strengthens the bond that you already share. When you eat, sleep, shower, ride, cry, laugh and get a massage with people for 4 days straight it's quite something.
I felt really good on the ride physically. I think I am really lucky since I didn't train well for the ride to feel as good as I did. I believe it's only my age that helped with that. Next year there needs to be some training.
I had the honor of being a caboose rider on day 1 this year which was quite something. But since our riders were moving so fast the caboose was FLYING to keep up. I have never ridden so fast in my life. I had a lot of trouble keeping my electrolytes in check that day and felt very "fuzzy" for lack of a better term. This problem seemed to persist for a couple of days on the ride but it was manageable.
Day 2 was our hilly day and it was really hilly but I was able to keep ahead and do really well. I know it's not a race but it was like I had something to prove to myself this year. Something that I could do and do well. I don't feel like a cyclist, I just feel like a person that hops on a bike once a year for a really good cause and is decked out in all the cycling gear for it. I actually got in to camp at 3:15 which was a first for me. I was haulin some ass that day! I also had the chance to ride with DJ and Joe for a lot of the ride too which was new for me. I prefer to ride alone just because I am not confident in my hill skills so I feel silly holding my friends back.
Day 3 was our century ride. We rode 101 miles from Sauk to Columbus. What a ride! I dedicated my ride in honor of my cousin Kevin that died in 1994. It was a very hilly ride, and I did end up getting burnt..sexy tan lines let me tell ya! One thing that kept me going was that I knew at the last pit stop of the day Loni was working as a day volunteer so I had some great motivation to make it all the way in. It was a really long day, and Gerry was super sweet by helping me gather up my gear, blow up my air mattress and get me all situated. Let me tell ya, your brain kinda goes screwy on you after 101 miles! So just when I thought I was so exhausted I had to go to bed, after my steering committee meeting I needed to chat. Having received some bad news that night I also noticed that Bri was not around and we found ourselves walking around the school, outside for over an hour. We just talked and talked until almost midnight. Knowing both of us had just ridden that far, and we were getting up early it was one of those things that you need to do. That moment needed to happen right then, and I am so blessed to have such a great friend on the ride with me. Love ya Bri!
Anyway, 0400 my alarm goes off (well I was up before the alarm but who is counting) It was my job on the ride to be wake-up bitch. So I woke up Bri, Jen, Kelly, and Joe. The last 50 miles into Madison were very emotional. I rode much slower than I have the last 3 days, taking in the sights, remembering those I have lost, riding for others that could not be there. I would have to stop from time to time just to wipe the tears off my sunglasses. When I finally pulled into lunch I had a mini-emotional breakdown. Unless you do this ride this part is hard to understand just how much emotion goes into each mile of the ride. Remembering, educating and standing up for a cause because you choose to. I have never regretted my decision to participate in any of the Act rides, and I hope I can continue to be involved for my entire life.
Riding into closing ceremonies was extra special for me, as a steering committee member I am able to lead all the riders into closing. That is a surreal moment. Having people stop on the road, honk and then the moment where we ride to our families and friends is quite breathtaking. I just can't describe it.
Thank you for the emails of encouragement, it means so much to get a message at night. It helps us push on. It means more than words can say.