THE TRAINING ROUTE
- Our training ride today was the “Wrap-Up Route” ride starting in downtown Raleigh at the State Capitol, which is the same place we had one of our first training rides. We rode almost right by my house during this very short, 12-mile ride. It really was just a “last gathering,” more symbolic ride, than anything else.
- A photographer was there from The Cary News, and he took a group photo. Joe and I didn’t join in right away as we really aren’t on Team Alliance (and it was their photo), but they insisted that the two of us, “Team IBM,” join them for the picture. “You’ve trained all season with us!” they said. Very cool.
WHAT I LEARNED
- What it feels like to take the “last training ride” of a long, and at times grueling, training season, and thinking back during the ride of the very, very long way we’ve come.
- Just a little awareness of my leg muscles, but it was such a short ride – over before we knew it!
HOW I FEEL
Later that afternoon...
Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina Appreciation Event, Cookout at Bond Park in Cary, NC from 1:00-4:00.
- We enjoyed a great meal of hot dogs, hamburger, veggie burgers, baked beans, slaw, chips, cookies, cake, and soft drinks!
- After a while, Michelle Spence, arrived. It was such an emotional moment as she walked up with her arm in a sling, all of us standing and clapping, seeing her for the first time since her accident.
- After she had a chance to eat, Ken, the Team Alliance captain, called her to the front of the shelter in which we were eating. He talked about how far Michelle had come, how in the beginning riding that old, heavy mountain bike she has, she had to “cross-train” to make it up hills, but eventually rode them all the way to the top. He then mentioned how her bike was damaged in the hit and run incident, and how, in spite of that, she was determined to ride again. As he was talking, one of the Team Alliance teammates was wheeling up the brand new $500 road bike we all pitched in to buy her. Needless to say she was overwhelmed, as were a lot of us. Ken told her that the outpouring of generosity from the team was so tremendous that, additionally, he wanted to give her this, the leftover contributions, $750, to buy everything she could possibly need to be prepared to ride next year. And her reaction to that? Shaking her head, “What? No. No. We should give this money to the people riding.” (There are some people on the team who still haven’t reached their minimum $2500 commitment needed to ride.) What a generous, caring spirit she is!
- We, of course, yelled, “Speech! Speech!” and she did her best to thank us. She was so moved, and moving. She made us laugh talking about how mad she was at the EMTs on the side of the road as they, at first, cut her “CamelBak” (water hydration pack) off her back, and then, cut her sports bra off!” She said she was cussing them out under the oxygen mask they had over her face. And she made us cry saying “This accident won’t stop me, though. As a cancer survivor, I know I can get past this, too. We’ve got to keep riding. I’ve lost so many friends to this ridiculous disease.” Breaking down, and most of us along with her. “I will miss riding with you, but I’ll be back next year. Thank you so much.”
- Next, the team presented a number of gifts to the team captain, who has done just a tremendous, tremendous amount of work getting the team prepared. Ken is such an enthusiastic, encouraging mentor. We gave him a $175 gift certificate to Starbucks (he lives there!), a gift certificate for a day at a “day spa,” I think two $50 gift certificates to Flythe Cyclery (where we all bought our bikes) as he was going there this week to get some new equipment for the ride, and a few gag gifts like an article entitled, “How to Pick Up Women in 60 Seconds.” (You remember me discovering about halfway through training that he is straight. It’s amazing to me that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.)
- Two awards were given out to the folks who had raised the most money. The first place award went to someone who wasn’t there, and of course, everyone joked, “She’s out raising money!” She raised $41,000! (That’s not a typo folks!) Her goal is to raise (she’s not done!) $51,000! She has broken all local records, and if she gets the $51,000, she will break the national record for fundraising by a single individual in this type of event. Quite amazing!
- A couple of other recognition certificates were given out, one to one of the sweeps, Mike, who swept for a lot of our rides, one each to two guys who’ve done a lot of work in fundraising, both with team fundraising events throughout the training season, and with getting businesses to sponsor the team. A few others were given out to folks who work at the Alliance, who have done a lot of work on this event.
- The closing to the afternoon was given by Bill Brent, the Executive Director of the Alliance, who expressed his heartfelt thanks to all of us for the dedication and commitment we’ve given of ourselves for almost a quarter of a year now, and for the almost one quarter of a million dollar that the team raised that his agency will benefit from.
- I left there with my heart full – feeling the human connection that we don’t feel often enough in our everyday lives. The calendar says the first day of the ride is in four days. My heart says today was day one.
Joe and I met the team at Starbucks on Peace Street after the ride. I bought Ken a coffee, and he seemed genuinely surprised, and was very thankful. What a great person he is.
We left for the Alliance Appreciation cookout at about 1:00. See the training journal entry for a description of that heartfelt afternoon.
We got home at about 5:00, and then ran out to Michaels to get a fabric pen, stopped at Old Navy to buy a couple of extra shirts, and then by Target and eventually Home Depot to get some plastic for the bottom of the tent on the ride.
Robert left at about 8 and I worked on organizing my papers, and eventually finished up the last entries of my training ride journal, and sent it out.